Story at a glance
- Multiple companies have pledged to cover their employee’s travel expenses if they live in a state with limited access to abortion.
- Pledges have been rolling in since last year, after Texas passed a restrictive abortion law that bans all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected.
- One poll found 51 percent of registered voters support when brands speak out about abortion access.
More Americans support brands that speak out about abortion access and in the past few days many have done just that, with some companies pledging to pay for their employees’ travel expenses if they need to go out of state to obtain an abortion.
Companies have been making such pledges in recent months as more states continue to pass laws and introduce legislation that severely restricts abortion access. Texas’ S.B.8, for instance, bans all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected. That’s usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before most people know they are pregnant.
The pressure to protect employees grew to new heights when a draft opinion by the Supreme Court was leaked on Monday that indicated the majority of justices favored overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that cemented abortion access as a constitutional right.
The final opinion is expected to be released in June, and if the court does ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade, 13 states will enact trigger laws that will automatically ban or restrict abortions.
Most Americans want brands to speak out on critical issues like abortion rights, with a poll by Morning Consult and Politico finding 51 percent of registered voters support when brands speak out about abortion access.
When asked about several actions companies could take in response to the Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v. Wade, 51 percent of respondents said they were in favor of providing resources and assistance to help employees. Another 46 percent supported similar actions to help customers too.
One in five voters even said they’d purchase more products or services from a company they regularly use if they released a public statement in support of protecting Roe v. Wade.
Many brands are catching on, and some have pledged to pay for their employee’s abortion-related expenses:
Levi Strauss & Co.
The denim-maker issued a statement Wednesday that vehemently opposed putting undue restrictions on women seeking abortions, saying, “women in some states would have fewer rights than women in others, and our country would be consigned to a more unjust and inequitable future.”
The company pledged to reimburse its employees for health care related travel expenses for services not available in their home state—including for reproductive health care and abortion. It said reimbursements would also be available to those employees who are not part of the company’s benefits plan, like part-time hourly workers.
E-commerce giant Amazon made a similar announcement this week, according to Reuters, saying it would pay employees up to $4,000 in travel expenses every year for non-life-threatening medical treatments, including abortions.
United Talent Agency (UTA)
One of the world’s leading talent and entertainment companies announced in a memo that it will reimburse employees for travel expenses related to receiving women’s reproductive health services that aren’t accessible in their state of residence, according to Variety.
Jeremy Zimmer, UTA CEO, told employees that the company is offering these benefits, “to support the right to choose that has been a bedrock of settled law for almost half a century.”
The electric car company is covering transportation costs for employees that need to get out-of-state abortions, according to The New York Times. Tesla is based in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott (R) outlawed abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected. Tesla has already been offering its employees’ fertility benefits, including I.V.F. and egg freezing and up to $25,000 for adoption and surrogacy services.
The crowd-sourced online review platform announced in April that it would cover travel expenses for all 4,000 of its employees who must travel out of state for abortions. That benefit could have the biggest impact on its 200 workers in Texas after the passage of S.B.8.
The global banker told stockholders that it would provide travel benefits to its employees who live in states with restrictive reproductive health care laws to access abortion clinics across the country.
Dating app Bumble also issued a statement in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court opinion, saying, “we believe strongly in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies.”
The company previously said it was creating a relief fund supporting reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in Texas, but it’s not clear if that’s being expanded to cover other states with restrictive abortion laws.
Ride-hailing app Lyft initially released a statement in September following Texas’ passage of S.B.8, with CEO Logan Green announcing a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover 100 percent of legal fees for drivers sued under the new Texas law while driving for Lyft.
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