Google employees petition bosses for abortion policy changes


A view of the main lobby of building BV200, during a tour of Google's new Bay View Campus in Mountain View, California, U.S. May 16, 2022. REUTERS/Peter DaSilva/File Photo

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - Over 650 workers at Google owner Alphabet Inc are demanding it offer abortion benefits to contractors, suspend donations to anti-abortion politicians and better protect users from abortion-related disinformation and police requests.

The demands were sent this week in a petition to executives seen by Reuters. They reflect concerns across the United States since a Supreme Court ruling in June prompted or raised the possibility of new restrictions on abortion and reproductive care in over half of the 50 states.

Google declined to comment on the petition, which the Alphabet Workers Union group organized.

Many companies including Google have established policies to assist employees seeking abortions. The Alphabet workers said temporary staff and contractors also should receive those benefits, such as reimbursement for travel to states where the procedure remains legal.

Thousands of workers live in states that restrict abortions, estimated Alejandra Beatty, technical program manager at Alphabet healthcare subsidiary Verily and co-lead of the petition.

Alphabet, which employs over 174,000 people globally, has said that though it sets some standards, it cannot fully dictate policies of outside vendors.

In addition, the petition says Alphabet should not direct political contributions toward groups and candidates campaigning to restrict abortion access. It has paused giving at least once before. In 2021, after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Google said it would pause donations to Republicans who voted against certifying that Joe Biden won the election.

Petitioners write that user searches concerning abortion on Google "must never be saved, handed over to law enforcement, or treated as a crime."

Google has said it will continue to fight police requests for user information that it considers excessive.

The workers also echoed demands from abortion advocates who for years have said that Google should remove search results for crisis pregnancy centers, which attempt to dissuade people from abortion. Google has said it removes misleading results that are reported.

Beatty said Alphabet should consider protecting reproductive rights an existential battle, like it did COVID-19, and convene a task force to oversee product changes.

"We're looking for a comprehensive response," she said.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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