- More companies are publicly opposing restrictive abortion laws.
- In the past, companies often avoided taking a position on sensitive issues.
- At least one survey found that people would be less willing to move to work in states that restrict abortion rights.
As more states enact restrictive abortion bans, some companies are responding. Yelp, Citigroup and Salesforce are just a few of the companies that have recently taken a stand against the abortion ban.
Companies have traditionally been reluctant to disclose whether and how they offer birth control and abortion care, even if they offer comprehensive benefits, according to Shelley Alpern, director of shareholder advocacy at the venture capital fund focused on reproductive health. Rhia Ventures, told Healthline.
Although some companies are finally publicly acknowledging the importance of abortion care, many others are failing to provide employees with basic contraceptives and abortion care.
By expanding benefits to employees and publicly advocating for abortion, the corporate sector can have a powerful impact on the kind of restrictions lawmakers sign after the lawsuit. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision expected in June.
“They certainly send an implicit signal of disapproval of abortion restrictions, which could presage a breakdown in support for lawmakers behind the bans. Nothing prevents companies from communicating to party leaders that they would prefer more candidates who hold more moderate views, whether they do so publicly or privately,” Alpern told Healthline.
Alpern has been keeping tabs on companies that have recently introduced benefits to support employees living in states with restrictions against abortion care.
In the past, companies have remained silent on sensitive issues such as access to abortion, but in light of recent events, more and more organizations have spoken out publicly against the bans and restrictions enacted.
“There are a lot of big companies updating their internal policies and practices,” said Jen Stark, senior director of corporate strategy at the Tara Health Foundation and co-creator of the Don’t Ban Equality Coalition.
Even if the companies don’t speak publicly about their actions, many are quietly updating their internal policies and offerings, Stark added.
Yelp has made significant donations to abortion rights organizations that are leading the legal battle against abortion bans like SB 8 in Texas, according to Alpern. Yelp also adjusted its algorithm so that reproductive health clinics that try to dissuade pregnant women from having abortions no longer appear in search results.
GoDaddy has taken down a website that allows people to post advice on who might offer abortions in Texas.
Apple sent an internal memo to employees saying company benefits will cover the costs of traveling out of state for medical care. In a filing, Citigroup said it would pay for employees to travel to other states to receive reproductive health care. Both Bumble and The Match Group have publicly stated that they are setting up funds to cover the costs of Texas-based employees who must travel for abortion care.
HP has publicly stated that its health plans cover abortion and help employees seek out-of-state treatment by covering a portion of their accommodation costs.
Salesforce offers employees the ability to relocate if they or family members are affected by laws restricting their access to reproductive health care. MotoRefi and Bospar have also offered to help Texas employees relocate.
Both Lyft and Uber have created legal defense funds in case drivers are penalized for transporting a pregnant person to an abortion appointment.
Whether more companies will move forward remains to be seen, but Alpern suspects others will expand their reproductive health benefits as more states enact abortion restrictions and we approaching the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs.
“I expect more companies to adjust their policies on things like travel coverage quietly rather than making a public announcement,” Alpern said.
Stark has helped companies big and small think about how they can publicly address abortion restrictions and support their workforce.
Don’t Ban Equality encourages member companies to recognize the impact of abortion restrictions on their workforce, to speak out when it comes to state and federal reproductive health policies, and to be strategic with their political giving and lobbying.
“With the stroke of a pen, corporations can mitigate the harms of extreme social policy,” Stark said.
According to Alpern, there are many ways for companies to offer contraceptive and abortion care to employees, but most companies don’t offer enough reproductive health benefits.
“For example, many companies don’t cover vasectomies. These care options give employees greater control over their reproductive lives, and their value cannot be underestimated,” said Alpern.
A survey by the nonpartisan public opinion research firm Perry Undem found that most workers — regardless of gender, age, race and ethnicity — would be discouraged from taking jobs in states that prohibit abortion, such as SB 8 in Texas.
Most employed adults would prefer to live in a state where abortion is legal and accessible, Alpern says.
“State lawmakers need to think hard about whether they want to be the next Texas or whether they want to pass the social policies that the workforce actually wants,” Alpern said.
Corporate political donations can also impact state policy. The companies will occasionally offer expanded health benefits to employees, but will donate to politicians who advocate for abortion restrictions, Stark says.
“Companies reluctant to make public statements can always drop a penny to quietly convey to lawmakers abortion restrictions weaken the business environment in their state and make it a less attractive place to do business,” said Alpern.
Several companies are expanding their reproductive health care benefits and speaking out publicly against some of the sweeping abortion restrictions taking effect across the country. Through these actions, along with political donations, companies can send a message to lawmakers that abortion restrictions weaken the business environment in their state.