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Yelp alters warning label on pregnancy centers amid criticism from two dozen AGs

by | Feb 21, 2023

By Sam Dorman

Yelp has defended the controversial warning label it placed on crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) — most often referred to as pregnancy resource centers or pregnancy help centers — but has narrowed the language in response to criticism from two dozen Republican attorneys general this month.

In a letter Feb. 8, the tech company told the AGs that its consumer notice would merely say: “This is a crisis pregnancy center. Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not offer abortions or referrals to abortion providers.” At the end of last year, Yelp announced it would slap a consumer notice on pregnancy center results, arguing that “Crisis Pregnancy Centers typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed professionals onsite.”

Led by Kentucky’s Daniel Cameron, the AGs accused Yelp of attempting to discredit CPCs through overbroad language and by recategorizing the CPCs as distinct from other “reproductive healthcare providers,” as Yelp put it.

“Together, these benignly labeled ‘recategorizations’ and ‘Consumer Notices’ constitute a scheme to discredit crisis pregnancy centers and to discourage women and families from accessing their services,” Cameron and others said in their letter to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.  

“For the following reasons, Yelp should rescind its August announcement immediately and stop discriminating against crisis pregnancy centers.”

The AGs’ Feb. 8 letter argued that the original notices’ language was unfairly applied to centers like those in Kentucky providing medical services like ultrasounds, and which have personnel like registered nurses. Moreover, it said, some abortion centers don’t even provide key medical services to handle surgical complications. Instead, hospital emergency departments handle these services.

It added that “recategorizing crisis pregnancy centers in a way that diverts women and families from such centers is misguided. Crisis pregnancy centers provide medical services that are needed, and, in many instances, crisis pregnancy centers are better.” 

Yelp General Counsel Aaron Schur responded by claiming that the AGs discrimination accusation was “not credible.” It justified the previous claim about licensed medical professionals by citing a CLI study in which CPCs collectively said that 25% of their paid staff and 12% of their volunteers were medically licensed. 

“Nevertheless,” Schur added, “Yelp has seriously considered your concerns, and while Yelp maintains that its notification is not misleading, in a good faith effort to address your concerns, Yelp is taking this opportunity to update its notification.”

The controversy came amid a spate of attacks – both physical and virtual – on CPCs following a leaked opinion showing the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade. Some of those criticisms came from Democratic lawmakers, who prompted Google to clearly label abortion businesses in both Google Maps and its search function.

Yelp has cited left-wing sources while accusing CPCs of attempting to mislead women by gaming search results – indicating bias on their part. For example, Yelp cited articles from the radical, pro-abortion Rewire news outlet and author Robin Marty. 

Yelp denied making the move in response to congressional pressure, but it has, nonetheless, used language indicating a pro-abortion bias and concern about the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. The company’s initial announcement, for example, read: 

Following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the ability to access safe abortion care has become more limited for millions of women across the U.S. – making access to information about businesses that offer reproductive health services more important than ever.

It also boasted of its role in “supporting access to reproductive healthcare for our employees, underserved communities and our users. For years, we’ve invested in helping consumers find trusted information when seeking reproductive health care. And over the past several months, as the fate of abortion rights hung in the balance, we’ve increased our efforts to protect our users and provide them with access to the information they’re looking for, which includes better matching them with reproductive health services that actually offer abortions when they are searching for abortion services and making it less likely they will see crisis pregnancy centers that don’t.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.