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Women seeking abortions are being directed to pro-life centres on Google Maps

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Anna Brech
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When you search for an abortion clinic in the UK, you may just end up at a pro-life “pregnancy crisis centre” instead

Women looking for abortion clinics are being misdirected to pro-life centres on Google Maps, an investigation by the Telegraph newspaper has found. 

“Pregnancy crisis centres”, often linked to religious organisations, appear in search results and map listings for abortion clinics across the UK, today’s report said. 

The trend is thought to have come from the States, where pro-life organisations are increasingly using tech intelligence to target women seeking terminations. 

Katherine O’Brien, head of media and policy research at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said these pro-life groups were responsible for telling pregnant women “completely inaccurate, scientific nonsense” about the risk associated with terminations.

She called on search engine providers to take more action in separating these organisations from real abortion clinics in listings.

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Pro-choice activists in the States, where pro-life organisations are using technology to target women seeking terminations

The pro-life centres listed on Google deny that they exert unfair pressure on women to carry through their pregnancies.

Instead, they aim to provide a “listening” and “support” service to those who want it, various spokespeople for the organisations told the Telegraph.

A spokesman for Google said that the company works hard to offer “relevant and accurate” results, adding that people can report misrepresentations for correction or removal. 

Around 180,000 women have an abortion each year in England. In August, the Government approved the use of at-home abortion pills for terminations carried out under 10 weeks’ gestation, bringing legislation into line with the law in Scotland and Wales.

However, progress on the issue also took a blow recently, when Home Secretary Sajid Javid refused to introduce “buffer zones” to stop anti-abortion protesters harassing women outside clinics in the UK.

These US-style protests are on the rise, as pro-life activists target women seeking terminations with graphic posters, chanting and intimidation tactics. 

Despite this, Javid ruled that having buffer zones to stop them “would not be a proportionate response”.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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