In early May, a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision showed the nation’s highest court was poised to overturn the federal abortion protections offered by the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case – leading to a flurry of states and businesses to preemptively offer to help individuals pay for abortion care should the court do so.
That possibility became a reality on Friday when the Supreme Court reversed the decades-old precedent, sending the issue of abortion rights back to state legislatures to decide.
Already, 16 states and the District of Columbia protected access to abortion in state law, and several states moved to expand or strengthen those protections earlier this year. States like Washington and Connecticut, for example, have protected abortion providers in their states from lawsuits.
Already, a growing cohort of state lawmakers and companies have moved to support those who might need abortion care, with some offering additional support to employees in states where abortion is likely to be severely limited or banned altogether in the coming days, weeks and months.
A coalition of Democratic governors on Friday announced the creation of what they deemed the “West Coast Offense,” a joint partnership between California, Washington and Oregon that aims to defend access to abortion care, particularly for out-of-state individuals forced to travel for the procedure.
“Reproductive freedoms are under attack,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom began a recorded video announcement.
“Red states and Republican-stacked courts have rolled back the rights of Americans,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee added.
“Today with the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe vs. Wade, more than half the states in the United States can ban abortion outright or severely restrict access to abortion services,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said.
“We will continue to protect patients from any state who come to our states for abortion care,” she said of the coalition, adding: “We will resist itrusions by out-of-state prosecutors, law enforcement and vigilantes trying to investigate patients receiving services in our states.”
“And we’re going to expand access to abortion services for the people in need,” Inslee said. “The West Coast of the United States is going to stand strong.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order to protect access to reproductive health care services in his state soon after the Supreme Court’s opinion was released.
“I am deeply disappointed in (Friday's) decision by the Supreme Court, which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services,” Gov. Baker said. “The Commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access.”
The order prohibits any Executive Department agencies from assisting another state’s investigation into a person or entity for receiving or delivering reproductive health services that are legal in Massachusetts.
The order also protects state providers who deliver reproductive health care services from losing their professional licenses or receiving other professional discipline based on potential out-of-state charges.
While New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy codified abortion protections into state law earlier this year, the Democrat on Friday said he is further prepared “to take whatever action I can to secure a woman’s full bodily autonomy and expand access to reproductive freedom.”
“Where we can, we will act to protect the rights and privacy of any woman who comes to New Jersey from states in which their rights are now eviscerated if not entirely erased,” Murphy said at a morning press conference.
“Obviously, we will have more to say on this in the coming days as we all go through the Court’s decision,” he added. “But, let there be no doubt, we will ensure that every woman in New Jersey has access to an abortion and to the full range of reproductive services they deserve as a matter of right.”
Lauren Hobart, president and CEO of DICK’S Sporting Goods, shared a lengthy message to her LinkedIn account on Friday writing that the company’s employees “are the heart of our business, and we are committed to protecting their health and well-being.”
To that end, the company will provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement for any employee, spouse or dependent forced to travel out-of-state to acess a legal abortion.
“This benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in our medical plan, along with one support person,” Hobart wrote in part, adding: “While we do not know what decision each state will make in response to this ruling, we at DICK’S Sporting Goods are prepared to ensure that all of our teammates have consistent and safe access to the benefits we provide, regardless of the state in which they live.”
Beginning July 1, JPMorgan Chase will reportedly cover employees’ travel and expenses for those who have to travel out-of-state in order to obtain a legal abortion, according to an internal memo first obtained by CNBC. The memo was reportedly sent on June 1, before the Supreme Court issued its final decision but well after a leaked draft of its opinion had circulated the web.
“Effective in July, you will be able to access additional covered benefits under the U.S. Medical Plan,” the bank told staff, adding: “We will also expand our existing health care travel benefit, which today covers certain services such as organ transplants, to all covered health care services that can only be obtained far from your home.”
According to CNBC, a question-and-answer portion of the memo read in part: “Our health care plans have historically covered travel benefits for certain covered services that would require travel. Beginning in July, we will expand this benefit to include all covered services that can only be obtained far from your home, which would include legal abortion.”
Lush, the cosmetics company known in part for its colorful bath bombs, in early January told Business Insider it was "exploring ways" to support staff who might be impacted by abortion bans in select states.
"We are fraught with concern for the state of women's rights in this country," the company told the outlet at the time. "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."
On Friday, Lush chief ethics officer Brandi Halls told Spectrum News the U.K.-based company is "working with our benefits provider on urgent basis to introduce an enhancement to our health benefit program to address a variety of medical needs, including abortion, that may require travel to different states."
The company expects to release full details of the announcement to employees by next week, Halls added.
Entertainment streaming service Netflix recently announced it would provide support for both U.S. employees and their families and dependents who are forced to go out-of-state to seek either abortion or gender-affirming care, as was first reported by Business Insider.
Netflix will also reimburse the cost for travel and other related expenses for cancer treatments and transplants, with a $10,000 lifetime cap per employee or dependent per service.
Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish and chief people officer Nancy Phillips sent an internal memo to company employees on Friday pledging that the company “will support – as we always have – the choices our employees make about their own health care,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by Variety.
“This includes the reproductive health and family-building benefits that help make our company a welcoming place to work,” the memo continued, adding that those benefits include: “Reproductive health care through company-sponsored health insurance, including coverage for birth control, elective abortion care, miscarriage care and certain related travel expenses if the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your area.”
Those benefits will apply to eligible employees whose healthcare is not covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia shared a message on LinkedIn saying that caring for employees and their health is the "responsibility of business," and detailed plans to both help support individuals who need access to abortions as well as those who choose to peacefully protest.
"Caring for employees extends beyond basic health insurance, so we take a more holistic approach to coverage and support overall wellness to which every human has a right," the company statement read in part. "That means offering employees the dignity of access to reproductive health care. It means supporting employees’ choices around if or when they have a child. It means giving parents the resources they need to work and raise children."
All Patagonia employees, both full and part time, receive health coverage for abortion care; when necessary, the company also covers the cost of travel, lodging and food.
The company also offers "training and bail for those who peacefully protest for reproductive justice," as well as time off to vote and resources on making informed decisions when doing so.
The Walt Disney Company reached out to employees in an internal email on Friday following news of the Supreme Court’s decision, telling staff that the company remains “committed to providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care” no matter which state they might live in.
Eligible employees covered by insurance will have the option to travel out-of-state to access “affordable coverage for receiving similar levels of care in another location” should their state not allow certain procedures including – but not limited to – abortions, according to a company spokesperson.
Alaska Airlines released a statement the day the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections saying the company would “continue to provide employees with extensive benefits to support their health and well-being, no matter where they live.”
“This includes reimbursing travel for certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live,” Andy Schneider, senior vice president of People at Alaska Airlines, wrote in the statement to employees. “Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change that.”
Schneider also acknowledged the news might be “distracting” for some, and encouraged staff who might be struggling with the Supreme Court’s decision to utilize the employee assistance program available to them and their dependents.
Google has long allowed employees to relocate offices, but recently reminded staff in a company-wide email of the benefit, saying individuals can apply to move states “without justification” following the Supreme Court’s decision.
“To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works,” chief people officer Fiona Cicconi told staff in an email, as first obtained by The Verge. “Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation.”
“We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy,” Cicconi added.
Clothing company H&M, which is headquartered in Sweden, will reimburse employees forced to travel out-of-state in the U.S. to receive abortion care. The plan will cover both travel and related expenses, the company said in a statement to the New York Times.
“Not only is supporting access to comprehensive reproductive care for our colleagues pivotal in supporting our women-led work force, but also crucial to our commitment toward full gender parity and equal opportunity in the workplace and broader society,” the statement read in part.
Amazon on Monday announced in an email to its staff that it would reimburse individuals up to $4,000 for travel expenses incurred for non life-saving medical procedures, which the company says includes abortions, according to a report first published by Reuters.
The new policy does not only cover abortions, but also includes reimbursement for procedures relating to gene therapies, cardiology and substance abuse treatments, Reuters said. The policy applies only for Amazon employees and covered dependents under the Premera or Aetna health plans, and can be used retroactively effective Jan. 1, 2022. An individual can request reimbursement for travel if care was not available within a 100 mile radius or online.
Last September, dating and friendship-seeking app Bumble announced it had “created a relief fund supporting the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in Texas.”
The move came in reaction to Texas’ restrictive Heartbeat Law, which prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected – typically around six weeks of gestation.
Bumble, a female-founded business headquartered in Austin, doubled down on that move on Tuesday, writing in a statement that it believes in “equitable access and the protection of women in every stage of their reproductive journey.”
“And we will continue to fight for the rights and protections of women all over the world,” the company statement continued. “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.”
Citigroup’s decision to cover related expenses for employees who travel outside of the state to get an abortion came not in reaction to the leaked Supreme Court draft, but was in fact enacted in response to Texas’ restrictive Heartbeat Act passed last year, which prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected – typically around six weeks of gestation.
The company now pays for airfare, lodging and other expenses for employees forced to go out of their home state to seek an abortion, according to a report published by Bloomberg.
In a public filing issued this March, Citigroup said the new policy came "in response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S.," though it did not specifically mention abortion.
Levi Strauss & Co., the clothing retailer well-known for its denim jeans, confirmed to Spectrum News on Wednesday that it reimburses individuals for “healthcare-related travel expenses for services not available in their home state,” which includes abortion. Hourly employees, who may not be covered by a company health plan, are also able to seek reimbursement for similar circumstances.
While the policy is not new, the company released a statement on Tuesday doubling down on its support for reproductive health services, saying protecting women’s right to abortion is “a critical business issue.”
“Efforts to further restrict or criminalize that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the U.S. economy and our nation’s pursuit of gender and racial equity,” the company statement said, later adding: “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.”
Starbucks announced on Monday, May 16, that it will cover the travel expenses for employees seeking abortions or gender-affirming care.
The coffee giant said that it would cover those expenses "when those services are not available within 100 miles" of a partner's (the coffee giant's parliance for employee) home. The benefit will also apply to a partner's dependents who are enrolled in the company's health insurance.
"We have a long history of providing comprehensive benefits for all part- and full-time partners, including offering affordable healthcare coverage that provides Starbucks partners more choice, cost savings opportunities and personalized support to help them easily and successfully select the best health care plan for their needs," the company wrote in a statement.
"We consistently listen to and collaborate with our partners to evolve our benefits based on their different benefits needs and preferences – and we will always work to ensure that our partners have access to quality healthcare and the support services they need," the company added.
Tesla is covering travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, joining the ranks of major companies who’ve introduced a similar policy to benefit workers affected by new restrictions in the past few months.
The company said Friday that it expanded its Safety Net program and health insurance offerings last year to include “travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state.”
Tesla officially moved its corporate headquarters last year from Silicon Valley to Texas, which passed a controversial ban on abortions at roughly six weeks of pregnancy, one of the strictest such laws in the country.
United Talent Agency, which represents some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, on Wednesday announced it would “reimburse our colleagues for travel expenses related to receiving women’s reproductive health services that are not accessible in their state of residence,” according to an internal memo obtained by Deadline.
“We’re doing this to support the right to choose that has been a bedrock of settled law for almost half a century,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer reportedly wrote in the internal memo. “Several states have already introduced restrictive legislation, and the draft Supreme Court ruling leaked yesterday, if it comes to pass, could make abortion illegal in more than half of the country.”
The agency will also reportedly “continue to prioritize” charitable donations to organizations that support women’s reproductive health, with more information to be released in the coming weeks.
Yelp recently told employees it would expand its medical coverage to include expenses for covered employees and dependents who travel out-of-state for abortion care, a spokesperson confirmed to Spectrum News in May.
The change came before the leaked SCOTUS document was published, but was intended to provide coverage in the event that abortion protections were stripped away at the federal level in the future. Yelp’s health care already covered abortion-related expenses, and the recent expansion aims to better support employees who live in states like Texas, where abortion access is already severely limited.
“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,” the company statement read in part. “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. This goes against the will of the vast majority of Americans who agree that decisions around reproductive care should be made by women and their doctors.”
Yelp also called on Congress to codify the protections provided in Roe into law, adding: “In the meantime, more companies will need to step up to safeguard their employees, and provide equal access to the health services they need no matter where they live.”
Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman announced the company would double-match all employee donations made to the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro Choice America, and Planned Parenthood throughout the month of June.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.