Republicans urge Google to include anti-abortion centers in abortion search results

FILE PHOTO: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to anti-abortion activists outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seventeen U.S. Republican state attorneys general wrote a letter to the chief executive of Alphabet's Google urging the company to show "crisis pregnancy centers," which oppose the procedure, in search results for people looking for abortion services.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is running for re-election in November, released the letter on Tuesday.

The letter comes after Democratic lawmakers wrote to Google in June arguing its search engine was giving inaccurate results to people seeking abortions by sometimes sending them to the crisis pregnancy centers, which steer woman away from the procedures. They asked Google to rectify the situation.

The request was prompted by a study released by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate. The study found that 11% of the results for a search for an "abortion clinic near me" or "abortion pill" in some states were for centers that oppose abortion.

The signatories on the Republican letter included Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and Daniel Cameron of Kentucky.

"We ...hope you will decide that Google's search results must not be subject to left-wing political pressure, which would actively harm women seeking essential assistance," the attorneys general wrote in the letter to Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai made public Tuesday and dated July 21.

"If you do not, we must avail ourselves of all lawful and appropriate means of protecting the rights of our constituents, of upholding viewpoint diversity, free expression, and the freedom of religion for all Americans," they wrote.

Crisis pregnancy centers, which have been around in one form or another for years, are sometimes located near abortion clinics and have been accused of giving women inaccurate information about their pregnancy, which can jeopardize their access to abortion.

Google said in July that it would delete location data showing when users visit an abortion clinic following concern that a digital trail could inform law enforcement if an individual terminates a pregnancy illegally.

Following a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that abortion was not protected by the constitution, the decision on whether to allow the procedure has been thrown back to the states.

Google declined a request for comment.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Aurora Ellis)