The US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling on abortion rights, according to a draft opinion leaked to the news outlet Politico yesterday (May 2).
Although the court has not yet publicized the results of its vote, or officially released a final draft of the opinion, Americans are bracing for sweeping changes in reproductive rights laws.
In 1973, the Roe v. Wade ruling held that a person’s right to an abortion was protected by the US constitution. If Roe is overturned, all issues related to abortion access will automatically fall under state law. Some 26 states would be expected to ban abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, meaning anyone seeking an abortion in those states would be forced to find the time and money to travel to a state where the practice remained legal.
Although a majority of Americans support abortion rights, several conservative political leaders have spent years chipping away at Roe v. Wade. Over the past year, Texas and other states have proposed or enacted draconian abortion laws, pushing US companies to consider how they could support employees in regions where reproductive health rights are severely limited.
Now, given the enormous economic and emotional costs of denying abortions, companies will face increased pressure to live up to their proposed commitments to support women and all genders in the workplace. Here’s a look at the companies that have already adopted policies around reproductive rights.
On May 2, hours before the leaked opinion surfaced, Reuters reported that Amazon had added an employee benefit that would cover up to $4,000 in expenses for traveling out of state for healthcare, whether for reproductive rights or other medical issues. (The news came just days after Amazon also told frontline workers that they were no longer eligible for paid sick leave if they tested positive for Covid. The new policy offers up to five days of unpaid, excused leave.)
Last September, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees that the company’s medical insurance plan would cover the costs of abortion treatment and any related travel for its Texas retail employees affected by the state’s “Texas Heartbeat Act,” which banned abortions after only six weeks.
The major bank recently announced that its health insurance plan would pick up the expenses for employees who need to travel for an abortion, despite potential legal risks. Bloomberg reports that the benefit would cover airfare and accommodations when needed.
The IT-focused, Texas-headquartered subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard told Wired that its medical plan covered medical treatments received outside of Texas, including abortions.
Levi’s, the iconic American clothing company, has also announced that any abortion-related service and travel fees its employees incur would be covered by the company’s health insurance plan.
Last year, Match Group CEO Shar Dubey set up a fund employees can draw from to pay for the cost of traveling for abortion access. Match also owns Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid.
“I’m speaking about this personally, as a mother and a woman who has fervently cared about women’s rights, including the very fundamental right of choice over her body,” Dubey told employees at the time.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff responded to the Texas Heartbeat Act last fall by saying the company would pick up the tab for any of its Texas-based employees who wanted to move out of the state entirely.
On May 16, Starbucks announced that it would pay the expenses for any of its US workers who need to travel for an abortion or gender-affirming procedure, provided the worker is enrolled in the company’s health insurance plan. The coffee giant has more than 240,000 employees in the country. The new benefit will cover costs for anyone who can not access reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare within 100 miles of where they live.
Yelp, the online reviews site said it would cover the costs of travel for workers in states where reproductive rights are limited. The benefit was adopted after Texas tightened its restrictions, but a spokesperson told The New York Times that it would apply to employees impacted by “current or future action that restricts access to covered reproductive health care.”
Other companies supporting abortion rights
Beyond extending employee benefits, other companies have announced policies to support people seeking abortions and the legal battle to uphold Roe v. Wade.
Uber and Lyft, the ride-hailing apps, said they would work with healthcare providers in Texas and Oklahoma to offer rides to clients seeking out-of-state reproductive healthcare. They have also pledged to pay the legal fees of any drivers fined for transporting a customer to an out-of-state abortion clinic in both states.
GoDaddy, the website hosting service, effectively kicked a Texas Right to Life whistleblowing site off its platform, and Bumble started a fund for Texan residents who needed assistance paying for an out-of-state abortion.