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Yelp adds notice to crisis pregnancy center listings to aid people seeking abortions

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Yelp is adding a notice to its crisis pregnancy center listings to differentiate them from abortion clinics, the company said Tuesday. The decision comes after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, limiting access to safe abortions.

Yelp's vice president of user operations Noorie Malik said in a statement Tuesday that the move aims to ensure that people seeking an abortion can find safe and proper care. 

"At Yelp, the trust and safety of our community is a top priority, which is why providing consumers with reliable and useful information to help inform their decisions is critical to our mission – this includes access to reliable information about reproductive health services," Malik said.

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Now, crisis pregnancy center and faith-based crisis pregnancy center listings will have a notification that warns users of their "limited medical services," and notes they may not have "licensed medical professionals onsite," Malik said. The notification is meant to prevent users from being "misled or confused," because some of the clinics have historically provided misleading information "in an attempt to steer people seeking abortion care to other options," she added.

There are more than 2,500 crisis pregnancy centers across the U.S., according to analysis from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The centers, many of which are faith-based, offer pregnancy tests, counseling and resources like clothes, diapers and parenting classes. Some provide limited medical services such as ultrasounds. 

Since the June ruling, many of these centers have seen an uptick in calls. And many of the centers want to seize the opportunity to grow their resources.

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"We need to make our presence even more known," Karen Sims, executive director of Hope Clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, told CBS News in July. "If it's our responsibility and important for us to encourage people to continue their pregnancies, then we need to be there and provide what we can, to eliminate as many obstacles as we can."

However, a June report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a group that aims to counter disinformation online, found that 1 in 10 Google search results for abortion services — "abortion clinic near me" and "abortion pill" — in the 13 states with so-called "trigger laws" lead to websites of pregnancy centers.

In July, the Massachusetts attorney general issued a consumer report warning that many crisis pregnancy centers were posing as abortion clinics.

"CPCs may appear to be reproductive health care clinics, but do NOT provide abortion care or abortion referrals, contraception or other reproductive health care, despite what they may advertise," the office of Attorney General Maura Healey's office said.

Her warning also pointed out that since the centers are not medical facilities, they are not required to abide by patient privacy laws to keep records private, or "follow codes of ethics or standards of care that govern health care professions."

Yelp's employees have been manually evaluating such businesses on its website since 2018 to ensure that they're honest about what services they provide, the statement said. In 2022 alone, Yelp has recategorized more than 400 business as crisis pregnancy centers or faith-based crisis pregnancy centers, according to Malik, and it will continue to do so.

"We take transparency seriously, especially around sensitive healthcare decisions," she said. "These updates further demonstrate Yelp's commitment to maintain the trust and safety of our users, and quality and integrity of the information we provide them."

In the past several months, many areas in the U.S. have moved to severely limit abortions. Lawmakers in states including FloridaGeorgiaIdahoIndianaLouisianaMississippi, North Dakota and Wyoming have passed near total bans on abortions. Although some of those bans are facing legal battles, many clinics and doctors in those states have stopped treating patients.

Melissa Quinn and Irina Ivanova contributed reporting.

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