In the days after a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked, Joe Roe v. Wade and allow individual states to have abortions, American corporations have remained largely silent on the issue. But experts say behind the scenes corporate leaders are scrambling to figure out how to respond.
The court’s opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, would change the law in vast areas of the United States, primarily in the South and Midwest.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization, if the opinion takes effect, 26 states would sharply cut or effectively end abortion access. Those restrictions would go into effect immediately in states that have passed “trigger” laws that take effect as soon as Roe v. Wade ends.
For business leaders, deciding how to react is a complex calculation, with challenges such as addressing the concerns of workers living in states ready to ban abortions; What kind of public stand, if any, on the divisive issue; and how to plan for a future in which state social policies – beyond the control of corporate executives – may affect potential employees’ willingness to take the job.
“I think we can start by saying that this is an issue that corporations really, really won’t touch with a barge pole,” Alison Taylor, executive director of business advisory organization Ethical Systems, told VOA.
Taylor said that if the decision takes effect, she has no doubt that companies will have to address it through changes to their benefits packages, for example, for women traveling to a different state to get an abortion. to cover the expenses of.
Many companies will eventually have to take a public stand, he said, due to a growing expectation, especially among younger workers, that corporations should have positions on important social issues.
However, given the current uncertainty, it is understandable that many companies would prefer not to take a public stance right now, she said.
“People aren’t really saying anything yet,” she said. “I think they’re trying to get their ducks in a row. But I don’t believe speaking up is a very reasonable idea in the current context.”
concern for retaliation
A real concern is that the response of any company that seems explicitly critical of the court’s decision leaves that business open to the potential for political retaliation.
For example, on Wednesday, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida strongly criticized companies that offer to pay employees to travel to different states for abortion care. He introduced a new bill that would make it illegal for companies to claim the expense as a business expense. Rubio’s bill would also target companies that pay parents to take children out of state for treatment of gender-identifying conditions.
“Our tax code should be pro-family and foster a culture of living,” Rubio said in a statement. Instead, often our corporations would seek loopholes to subsidize the murder of unborn children or horrific ‘medical’ treatment on children. My bill will make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Retaliation has also taken place at the state level. In March, Citigroup said it would pay employees in Texas to travel out-of-state for abortions, bypassing a new law in that state. In response, a state lawmaker announced that he would introduce a bill that would prevent the company from underwriting municipal bonds in Texas.
silence not total
While most major corporations are silent on the draft opinion, social media firms seem to be an exception. While not speaking explicitly for her company, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, criticized the opinion on her own Facebook page.
“It’s a scary day for women across the country,” she wrote. “If the leaked draft opinion becomes the law of the land, one of our most fundamental rights will be taken away. Every woman, regardless of where she lives, should be free to choose how and when she wants to be a mother.” Be. There are few things more important to women’s health and equality.”
Social media site Yelp issued a statement, saying, “Reversing Roe v. Wade would endanger the human rights of the millions of women who stand to lose their freedom to make decisions about their bodies.”
Bumble, which owns online dating sites, issued a statement saying, “At Bumble, we strongly believe in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety of family planning, Privacy and freedom are key to equality for all.”
profit margin potential
Past actions suggest that many companies will change their benefits packages to allow employees in states that do not use services in states that ban abortions.
Last year, when the Supreme Court allowed a controversial Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks to stand without a decision on the merits of the case, many companies were forced to return to Texas to promise support to their employees. Was looking forward to
Apple offered to cover medical expenses for its employees who had to leave the state for abortion services. Salesforce offered to help employees relocate to a different state if they wanted to. On Monday, before the draft opinion leaked, Amazon announced it would reimburse Texas employees for up to $4,000 in travel expenses related to out-of-state abortion care.
Jane Stark, senior director of corporate strategy at the Tara Health Foundation, told VOA that in the short term, she would expect to see more of it.
“We have seen examples of companies introducing programs to provide some travel assistance, their paid sick leave programs and other wraparound benefits, and updating existing policies and practices that have been adapted to meet the moment. May go.”
Stark said the corporate leaders he’s spoken to are also beginning to consider how to address such public policy issues in the future.
against public opinion
The anti-abortion movement in the United States is large and well-organized. However, elements of the movement that demand a total or almost complete ban of the practice represent a minority of the population.
Survey data has repeatedly demonstrated that a vast majority of the American public does not want Roe v. Wade to turn around. The belief that access to abortion should be maintained is more popular among young workers than among the population in general.
This presents potential problems for businesses operating in states that could increasingly restrict access to abortion.
“Eight out of 10 college-educated knowledge workers — top talent — view abortion and access to reproductive health care as part of gender equality in the workplace, no more, no less,” Stark said. “Employers who want to attract top talent to states whose social policies don’t align with their values will have to do more.”
In some cases, this may involve locating operations elsewhere.
Taylor of Ethical Systems said: “If I have plans to expand into the states that are going to implement these laws, I’m going to revisit them now because of the expense and the hassle, and the noise. What these lawmakers are making about is ‘if you protect, or if you try to do something to help women, we’re going to retaliate against you.'”