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Starbucks joins Tesla, Amazon, Apple, and Citi as the latest company to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different states. Here's how companies are pushing back against increasing restrictions.

·8 min read
Supreme Court abortion
Protesters, demonstrators and activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the abortion-rights ruling under Roe v Wade.

  • Companies like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are expanding support for workers seeking abortion.

  • Here is a list of major companies taking steps in response to any rollback of reproductive rights.

In a surprise leak, a Supreme Court majority decision appears poised to overturn decades of settled law in reversing the constitutional right to abortion under Roe v Wade.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft document was real, but said the court has not yet reached a final ruling.

Though the leak itself was unexpected, it follows a concerted effort that has long been underway in many Republican-controlled states to severely limit access to abortion.

Several large companies with employees located in places like Texas and Oklahoma have announced their own initiatives to preserve access to medical treatments that are in the process of being criminalized by state lawmakers. 26 states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if Roe is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute.

Employers like Citi, Apple, Yelp, and Amazon are specifically including abortion in their expansion of existing benefits programs, which reimburse employees for travel costs related to seeking medical care that is not available near the employee's home.

Others like Uber and Lyft have pledged support for transportation for people seeking abortions, as well as legally defending drivers against abortion related lawsuits.

Below is a list of major companies and how they are responding to rollbacks of reproductive rights.

Starbucks

The coffee company, which employs 240,000 workers across the US, announced an expansion of its employee benefits package that will soon include reimbursement for travel to access abortion or gender-affirming care that is not available locally. The benefit also applies to employees' dependents enrolled in the company's programs.

"Like many of you, I'm deeply concerned by the draft Supreme Court opinion related to the constitutional right to abortion that was first established by Roe v. Wade," Starbucks executive vice president Sara Kelly said in a letter to staff. "Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare."

Tesla

The electric carmaker, which officially relocated its headquarters to Texas in December, announced in a report on May 6 that it has offered "travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state" since 2021 under its Safety Net and health insurance program.

Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed concerns about Texas' fetal heartbeat bill during a town hall meeting in September. The company soon followed up with a memo that called the bill "uniquely restrictive," and said the employee health plan covers participants who "travel out-of-state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state."

Citigroup

Citi, which has roughly 8,500 employees in Texas, notified investors in a March filing that "In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources."

Amazon

On May 2, just hours before news of the Supreme Court draft decision broke, Amazon told employees it would cover up to $4,000 per year in travel costs related to non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortion. The policy covers both corporate and warehouse workers and their dependents who are enrolled in the company's Premera or Aetna health plans.

Salesforce

Shortly after the Texas bill passed in September, Salesforce told employees via its internal messaging system: "If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family."

Yelp

"Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies," Yelp said in a statement on Tuesday. "Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy."

In explaining Yelp's decision cover travel costs for employees seeking abortion in a different state from the one where they live, chief diversity officer Miriam Warren previously told Insider, "This is not a new issue for Yelp; this is a new benefit."

"Our company and our CEO have long been invested in promoting gender equity," she continued, "the possibility of which is diminished when women don't have control over their own reproductive health."

Lyft

In response to the "heartbeat" abortion bans recently passed in Oklahoma and Texas, Lyft announced it would cover the legal fees of drivers sued in either state for transporting passengers to abortion providers.

The ride-share company said it is also working with healthcare partners to cover transportation costs to airports and clinics for women in Oklahoma and Texas seeking out-of-state abortion care.

Lyft's US medical benefits include coverage for elective abortions. On April 29, the company said it will cover the transportation costs for employees seeking abortions outside of Texas and Oklahoma.

Uber

Uber announced it would also cover drivers' legal fees soon after Lyft.

"Drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter, referring to a provision that allows private citizens to sue individuals "aiding and abetting" an illegal abortion and creates a $10,000 "reward" for successful lawsuits.

Match

Match Group CEO Shar Dubey created a fund for Texas-based employees seeking healthcare services outside of the state following the "heartbeat" abortion ban.

"I'm not speaking about this as the CEO of a company," Dubey said. "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."

Bumble

Bumble created a relief fund for organizations supporting Texans' reproductive rights. The $6.6 billion company founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 tweeted that it was "women-founded and women-led," and would "keep fighting against regressive laws like SB8."

Bumble and Match were some of the first Texas-based tech companies to speak out against the ban.

"We are dismayed by the rumors of the Supreme Court decision that was leaked last night," a Bumble spokesperson said Tuesday. "At Bumble, we believe strongly in women's right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all ... The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to partner with organizations that work to provide reproductive access to all."

Dell

In response to TX SB8, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell sent an email to all Texas employees on Wednesday, September 8 that said: "Our leadership team is carefully reviewing the implications of recent legislation on our business and on you, our team members."

While the internal message did not mention SB8 by name, Dell wrote that "there's much we still don't know about how all of these laws will ultimately play out" and the company's "goal is for you to have more (health) coverage, not less."

A Dell spokesperson declined to comment on the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked Monday, adding that the company's focus "is on our team members and supporting them with the benefits and support they need."

Levi's

Levi's employees, including part-time retail workers, can seek reimbursement for travel expenses related to seeking an abortion in another state.

"Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is a critical business issue. Efforts to further restrict or criminalize that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the US economy and our nation's pursuit of gender and racial equity.

It would jeopardize workplace gains women have made over the past 50 years, disproportionately impact women of color and force companies to implement different health policies for different locations. Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights," Levi Strauss & Co said Tuesday in a statement shared with Insider.

Lush

Lush Handmade Cosmetics said in January that it's reviewing healthcare coverage to ensure all US staff can access abortion services.

"We are fraught with concern for the state of women's rights in this country. Not only because Lush employs over 80% of women but because we know access to safe reproductive care, including abortion is an essential part of a healthy workforce and community. For seven months we've been campaigning for the right to access to abortion for all in TX, FL, OH, MO, AK and OK.

The leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion confirms our worst fears and we are currently exploring ways to support impacted staff with inclusive and equitable care. But this 'fix' can only be temporary from the business community, we need legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act, passed to reflect the will of the majority of the country and ensure that women's rights are affirmed as what they are — human rights," Brandi Halls, Chief Ethics Officer for Lush Cosmetics North America, said in a statement shared with Insider on Tuesday.

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