Online business review site Yelp is suing Texas to defend its descriptions of crisis pregnancy centers which make clear to readers that the centers do not provide abortions or abortion referrals.
Currently, Yelp applies an alert it calls a “Consumer Notice” to crisis pregnancy center listings reading, “This is a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not offer abortions or referrals to abortion providers.”
Yelp is suing Texas to prevent Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from punishing the company “for publishing truthful information about businesses that offer pregnancy-related counseling to the public,” the company said in a complaint filed Wednesday in San Francisco federal court.
Paxton sued Yelp Thursday, claiming it violated Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act “by appending inaccurate and misleading language to listings on pregnancy resource centers appearing in the search results on Yelp’s app and website.”
“Yelp cannot mislead and deceive the public simply because the company disagrees with our state’s abortion laws,” Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. Major companies cannot abuse their platforms and influence to control consumers’ behavior, especially on sensitive health issues like pregnancy and abortion.”
The suit comes after Paxton told Yelp he planned to sue the company for stating that crisis pregnancy centers “typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite,” Yelp told CBS MoneyWatch.
Yelp alleges such action violates the First Amendment. The company has also since changed its language to make clear the centers do not provide abortions, a statement Paxton has called “accurate.”
Yelp explains it first started adding the notices to listings for crisis pregnancy centers in August 2022 when it found they were leading consumers seeking abortion care to anti-abortion counseling services.
Initially, the notices informed users that such centers “typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite,” a statement Yelp alleges is truthful and accurate and was “intended to enable Yelp users to make informed choices.”
In February 2023 Paxton demanded that Yelp remove the notice, calling it misleading.
Yelp updated the notice to indicate that such centers don’t provide abortions. Paxton conceded that the current crisis pregnancy center labelling language is “accurate.” Still, Yelp expects Paxton to file suit as early as Friday.
“The trust and safety of our users is a top priority for Yelp, which is why we take extensive measures to provide consumers with relevant and reliable information when they search for local businesses on our platform,” Yelp said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. “This is especially critical when people are searching for health care services on Yelp, including reproductive care.”
Attorney General Paxton’s office did not immediately reply to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment.
Yelp has also taken action to protect its own employees in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The company pays for workers who live in states where their rights are limited to travel to get an abortion, Yelp Chief Diversity Officer Miriam Warren told CBS News.
“We recognize that in order to give our employees equal access to the health care they may need, we need a travel benefit to allow them to travel if necessary,” she said.