Amazon, Starbucks and more boost abortion coverage

John FScott/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) – Advocates on both sides of the pro-reproductive-rights political battle have spoken out, protested or applauded a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion earlier this month that, if valid, would overturn the court’s landmark Roe v case Decision Wade.

While much of corporate America has remained silent on potential legal blockbusters, some companies have taken public stances and adopted new policies that expand access to abortion for employees.

As workers in states such as Oklahoma and South Dakota face tougher abortion restrictions, several companies, including Amazon and Starbucks, have announced expanded health benefits to pay workers seeking abortions if they can’t be near where they live. Travel expenses incurred to perform an abortion.

“Like many of you, I am deeply concerned about the Supreme Court’s draft opinion on constitutional abortion rights originally established by Roe v. Wade,” Sara Kelly, Starbucks’ acting executive vice president for employee resources, said Monday in a statement to employees. in the memo.

“When actions affect your access to health care, we will work to make sure you feel supported,” she added.

Meanwhile, ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber have vowed to provide legal support if drivers face lawsuits over driving passengers to have abortions.

Businesses are often reluctant to take a stand on such a polarizing issue, corporate responsibility experts told ABC News.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor who has held meetings with top CEOs on social issues, told ABC News that many of the companies that introduced policy changes were in the tech industry, where employees tend to be young and freelance.

Sandra Waddock, a professor specializing in corporate responsibility at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, told ABC News: “Companies that take a stand on a highly divisive political issue like this are likely to disagree with some stakeholders. Trouble occurs.” “But companies implementing these policies don’t want their employees to be harmed, and it may make sense to ensure their employees are happy.”

An October analysis by the Guttmacher Institute found 26 states “definitely or likely” to ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. On Thursday, the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill that would ban abortion during pregnancy and, if enacted into law, would be the strictest abortion ban in the country.

In addition to Starbucks and Amazon, Yelp, Tesla, Citigroup, Apple and Salesforce have expanded abortion coverage for employees in recent weeks to include travel expenses if necessary.

Mastercard joined them on Wednesday, becoming the latest to say it will pay for employees to travel away from their hometowns to seek abortions, first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed to ABC News.

In a message shared to employees with ABC News, Mastercard warned that courts could overturn previous rulings on access to reproductive health care. “We will continue to provide our employees with the same health care services, including family planning and reproductive benefits, that are available today wherever they are,” the company added.

The new company policy has been supported by abortion rights advocates and criticized against abortion.

Nadia Khamis, director of corporate engagement at Planned Parenthood, told ABC News, “The organization is very encouraged to see the influx of companies touting how they are responding to potential threats to Roe.”

The need to ensure employees have access to reproductive services is not only a human rights mandate, but a business one, Khamis said.

“If you’re a company that cares about competitiveness and wants to recruit diverse, smart, efficient companies,” Khamis said, “they need equal access to health care, and abortion is essential.”

But the new policy drew harsh condemnation from David Osteen, executive director of the anti-abortion group National Commission on the Right to Life. O’Steen said the policies will help the company’s employees have abortions. Also, contrary to Khamis, he said the moves would undermine the company’s business goals.

“These companies were formed to make products and make a profit for investors,” O’Steen told ABC News. “Don’t let people fly all over the country for abortions. It’s a bad business decision.”

The company’s policy changes following the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion mark the latest effort by companies to respond as major political developments entangle the country.

Three years ago, more than 180 CEOs, including Twitter and Warby Parker, signed an open letter opposing restrictive abortion laws at the state level.

In the days following the death of George Floyd, in May 2020, companies in Corporate America issued statements in support of racial justice and donated to advocacy groups fighting racial inequality.

Hundreds of companies and executives signed a letter opposing “any discriminatory legislation restricting access to the ballot box” last April as the state legislature pushed through restrictive voting laws.

Sonnenfeld, a professor of management at Yale University, told ABC News that relatively few companies have commented on the Supreme Court’s draft opinion on Roe as they assess whether employees, investors and other stakeholders want such a move.

“There have been bigger stampedes on other issues,” Sonnenfeld said. “Quite a few CEOs are waiting to make sure they don’t get out in front of their supporters.”

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. all rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *