Pro-life pregnancy centers are fighting back against an online campaign that aims to inundate their business sites with negative reviews and label their facilities as "fake clinics."
According to Life News, former comedienne Lizz Winstead and her group, known as "Lady Parts Justice League," have launched the "Expose Fake Clinics" campaign in an effort to post negative reviews on profile pages of pregnancy centers on Google My Business.
One user has reportedly posted over 100 negative reviews on the profile pages of the pro-life centers, starting with facilities in Columbus, Ohio and moving through the Midwest and even up into Canada.
Each of the centers was marked with one out of five stars and accused of being a "religious facility masquerading as a medical facility. This is a FAKE CLINIC!" Similar reviews have been posted at the pregnancy centers' pages for national networks, including Heartbeat International, Care Net and nonprofit adoption agency Bethany Christian Services.
Extend Web Services, which helps pregnancy centers market online through Heartbeat International, has since asked Google staff to remove more than 40 negative reviews on their platform.
Tim Stephens, who works as a web marketing specialist with Extend Web Services, has also called on Google representatives to launch an investigation regarding the spate of negative reviews, citing Google's policy of accepting reviews only from those with a legitimate past interaction with a business or organization.
"These people are professing to be the defenders against false information, yet this past week, we've seen them running at full speed across the United States and Canada flinging fake reviews every which way they can. They just can't seem to help but contradict themselves," said Stephens, who serves 169 pregnancy help organizations through Extend.
Extend Web Services and Heartbeat International have also informed other pregnancy centers about the situation and showed them how to flag false negative reviews.
Apart from posting negative reviews, the "Expose Fake Clinics" also scheduled protests at pregnancy centers in at least six states when it was launched in July.
Heartbeat International called on pro-life advocates to fight the campaign by leaving positive online reviews and by supporting the work of the pregnancy help community.
Jor-El Godsey, the president of Heartbeat International, said that Winstead's campaign against the pregnancy centers is nothing new, but he noted that the group's new strategy of posting negative reviews does represent a unique, potentially dangerous approach to attacking pregnancy help organizations.
"Big Abortion was into 'fake news' long before this current political season. They've lied about the impact of abortion and now they're lying about those dedicated to helping women have life-affirming options," he said.