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Pichai McCarthy

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai (right) shakes hands with then-U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) before testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 11, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Google Workers Push Tech Giant to Stop Funding Lawmakers Destroying Abortion Rights

According to a recent analysis, Google has given more than half a million dollars to right-wing anti-abortion political groups since 2016.

Brett Wilkins

Hundreds of Google employees have signed a petition sent this week to the CEO of parent company Alphabet asking the tech titan to stop supporting right-wing politicians and groups destroying reproductive freedom, and to protect and expand workers' rights in the post-Roe v. Wade era.

"These politicians were responsible for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and continue to infringe on other human rights."

"We, the undersigned, recognize that all Alphabet workers, of all genders, are impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade and are disappointed in Alphabet's response and influence on this ruling," the petition to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai—which is signed by more than 650 Google workers—states.

In order to "protect our government against corporate influence," the petition asserts that "Alphabet must stop lobbying politicians and any political organizations, through NetPAC or any other means, because these politicians were responsible for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and continue to infringe on other human rights issues related to voting access and gun control."

Founded in 2006, Google NetPAC, which says it supports a "free and open internet," last year gave $69,500 to Republican Senate candidates, including $9,000 to senators who voted to confirm at least one of former President Donald Trump's three Supreme Court appointees who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to OpenSecrets data cited by The Hill. The PAC donated $27,000 to Democratic Senate candidates during the same period.

According to a May analysis by Popular Information's Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby, since 2016 Google has given $525,702 to right-wing anti-abortion political groups, including $195,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, $225,702 to the Republican Governors Association, and $105,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe, Google notified employees that their health insurance plan will cover the cost of out-of-state medical procedures that are unavailable where they live.

At least 14 states have passed laws banning most abortions in the wake of June's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, with more bans either in the works or under legal challenge.

The new petition also calls on Alphabet to "protect all workers' access to reproductive healthcare," including by "extending the same travel-for-healthcare benefits" to temporary hires, vendors, and contractors as full-time employees enjoy, and by "adding a minimum of seven days of additional sick time because workers will need to travel for significant periods to obtain health services."

The petition further urges the company to shield workers "from having their data used against them and addressing the disinformation and misleading information," including by "instituting immediate user data privacy controls for all health-related activity" and "fixing misleading search results related to abortion services by removing results for fake abortion providers."

Amid fears that certain data could be used to target abortion seekers or recipients, Google vowed last month to "remain committed to protecting our users against improper government demands for data, and we will continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable."

The company also said it would protect user privacy by deleting their location history "soon after they visit" places including "counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics, and others."

Earlier this week, Bloomberg published an investigation revealing that Google Maps regularly misdirected people seeking abortion clinics to so-called "crisis pregnancy centers," unlicensed facilities often run by religious groups that appear to be health clinics but are really designed to misinform pregnant people about their rights and steer them away from abortion care.

The petition concludes by calling on Alphabet to "create a dedicated task force with 50% employee representation, responsible for implementing changes across all products and our company."

Alejandra Beatty, a member of the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), told Engadget, "I want to see a plan that is similar to our response to Covid-19."

"This is a healthcare crisis that has been created," Beatty asserted. "I want to see a plan like that. And others agree with me."

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