This is a change of tone for American companies. Long taboo, the right to abortion is now defended by large companies while the Supreme Court threatens access to voluntary termination of pregnancy. Uber, Amazon, Yelp and hundreds of companies thus undertake to cover the abortion costs of employees forced to travel to another state to perform it.
It’s a real earthquake. A bill from the United States Supreme Court challenging the right to abortion leaked on the night of May 2-3. If implemented, it could strengthen the anti-abortion laws already in force in several states such as Texas, Georgia, Alabama… Faced with the distress of their employees, several companies have taken the lead. Dating app maker Match has set up a fund to cover abortion costs for its employees and their dependents, including the necessary out-of-state travel.
A decision taken in September 2021, directly after the promulgation in Texas of the so-called “heartbeat” law SB8 which prohibits, even in the event of incest or rape, abortion after 6 weeks. A period during which women often do not know that they are pregnant. “Usually we don’t take political positions unless it’s relevant to our business,” comments Shar Dubey, the director of Match, in an internal memo. “This law is so regressive to the cause of women’s rights that I feel compelled to speak publicly about my personal opinion.”
Protecting women’s health and careers
Yelp, Apple, Levi’s, Amazon… Many companies have taken similar action. For their part, the giants of the VTC Lyft and Uber undertake to pay the costs of the legal proceedings of the drivers who helped women to find a place to have an abortion, a now reprehensible act in Texas. Finally, some sixty companies have signed the “Don’t Ban Equality” appeal to protect the health and careers of women, recalling that the most precarious are the first victims of anti-abortion laws, unable to afford a trip. distant.
These positions on reproductive rights are new. They contrast with corporate silence in 2019, when Georgia and Alabama had already enacted drastic pro-life laws. Speaking out means running the risk of confrontation with local authorities. Disney has lost tax benefits in Florida after speaking out against a law banning the evocation of homosexuality in elementary school, an equally divisive subject.
Forced to position
If these companies are so daring, it is also because public opinion has evolved. “People in favor of the right to abortion outnumber those who oppose it. reminds AFP Neeru Paharia, professor at Georgetown University. A trend that is not limited to access to abortion. In a particularly tense political context, brands have multiplied their positions during the Trump era. When Georges Floyd died, many companies made donations to associations. Nike has bet on virality by publishing a video seen more than 7 million times where its famous slogan “Don’t do it” is replaced by “For once do it”.
It is also a question of retaining the talents of tomorrow, with a generation Z very attached to the values of the company. More and more employees, consumers and observers are exerting pressure on social networks, forcing companies to position themselves. The tag #BansOffOurBodies, created to protect abortion, is used as much for employees who ask their company to act as for external boycotts. Some companies funding conservative associations, openly anti-abortion.
Corporations traded our reproductive rights away for tax breaks and profitable policies.
Verizon: $901,150#BansOffOurBodies and corporate money out of politics.https://t.co/xZ29mbpxd5
— Melanie D’Arrigo for NY03 (@DarrigoMelanie) May 4, 2022
In a recent Tara Health Foundation poll of 1,804 American college graduates, two-thirds of respondents said the “law of the heartbeat” would discourage them from taking a job in Texas. Finally, on a larger scale, prohibiting abortion would cost the American economy $105 million a year, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. At issue: the reduction in the mass of workers, estimated at 500,000 women who would lose their jobs, the reduction in their wages and the cost of turnover.