For those women who are considering terminating their pregnancies, a new chatbot called Charley aims to help them start the process of getting an abortion.
The chatbot, which launched on Sept. 12, is available on Charley’s website, greeting visitors with the message, “Need an abortion? Let’s get started.”
On its website, Charley is described as “designed by abortion experts, made for abortion seekers.”
One of its co-founders is Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood. Richards “oversees legal, political, and policy matters and leads fundraising efforts” for Charley, according to the chatbot’s website.
Another co-founder is Tom Subak, former chief strategy officer at Planned Parenthood.
Charley isn’t an app — it lives online, on its own website.
While individuals can freely visit the site, the company is also seeking medical providers who will agree to embed the chatbot directly on their own websites, “to meet abortion seekers wherever they are online,” said Nicole Cushman, Charley’s New York-based content manager, in an interview with Fox News Digital.
Cushman, who has held leadership positions at Planned Parenthood, said the idea for the chatbot came about after Roe v. Wade was overturned — with the goal of “improving people’s online search experience.”
“Our research showed that people were turning primarily to Google for information about abortion options in the post-Roe landscape, and that it was very challenging for abortion seekers to connect to available options,” she said.
People “were ending up in an endless Google loop.”
“This was particularly the case if they were living in a state with an abortion ban or restriction — they were ending up in an endless Google loop.”
Charley’s creators envisioned a “simple, effective way to pull together information from a range of sources” and “cut through the confusion,” Cushman told Fox News Digital.
How Charley works
Unlike large language models like ChatGPT, Charley doesn’t allow people to type questions. Instead, the chatbot uses a “decision tree” format that guides visitors through a series of pre-written prompts, including the desired type of abortion and the date of their last menstrual period.
It also asks for a zip code to determine the specific abortion laws in the visitor’s state of residence.
For example, when Fox News Digital entered a zip code in Ohio, the response was: “Currently, abortion care is legal in Ohio, but only up to 22 weeks. This means that, if you act quickly, you‘ll be able to get abortion care in your state. If you need more time or can’t get an appointment before then, you may still have options in another state.”
For abortion seekers under 18 years of age, Charley notifies them whether state law requires a parent’s permission to get an abortion — and also offers assistance for minors to ask a judge for permission to get the procedure on their own.
At the end of the series of questions, the chatbot provides a summary of expected costs, alternate funding options and a directory of resources to find an abortion provider.
“Those resources might include a link to a directory to locate the nearest clinic, a link to telehealth providers — or help lines for legal, medical, financial or emotional support,” Cushman told Fox News Digital.
“Our research showed that people were turning primarily to Google for information about abortion options.”
Gaither said there are a “multitude of reasons why reproductive options are needed,” pointing to scenarios like “congenital fetal anomalies” or issues where giving birth could “compromise the mother’s health or even kill her.”
The doctor did add, however, that face-to-face discussion with a health provider is always recommended as the first avenue for any woman seeking reproductive options.
Dr. Laura Purdy, a board-certified family medicine physician in Brentwood, Tennessee, said she values in-person interaction to ensure that women who are considering abortion are aware of the emotional implications of their decision — which can range from anxiety to grief.
“Chatbots are a great way to offer advice, and I can understand their appeal,” she told Fox News Digital.
“However, the health of women is a very personal matter that demands a lot of attention.”
“I would recommend thoroughly researching the side effects that an abortion can have on a woman’s body, and see a doctor after that decision to ensure that your mental state is being cared for.”