After the Supreme Court ruled last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, essentially allowing states to ban abortion, numerous companies told staff that they would offer new benefits, including reimbursement for travel, for those working in states where abortion would now be illegal.
Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, in a statement, encouraged businesses to step up: “This ruling puts women’s health in jeopardy, denies them their human rights, and threatens to dismantle the progress we’ve made toward gender equality in the workplace since Roe. Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law.”
Yelp and others joined a small group of companies that announced before the Supreme Court ruling that they would cover travel expenses for employees seeking abortions in states where they were banned. That group included Airbnb, Amazon, DoorDash, Levi Strauss, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Patagonia and Reddit.
While many employees may celebrate their companies taking a stand, experts say these companies may end up in a showdown with the states that are banning abortion.
“It could lead to a big mess in the best of cases,” said Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. “And I don’t think it’s going to turn out to be the best of cases. I think what we are going to see is Republican legislators, either out of principle or out of personal interest, go after companies. And I think a recent example, (Gov. Ron) DeSantis and Disney" — in which the Florida governor signed legislation that would eliminate the company's special tax privileges in the state — "is a template for why we should be concerned about this mix between business and politics.”
How big of a mess it will be “depends on how far states want to go with it,” said Kermit Roosevelt, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. “If companies are headquartered in a state or even conduct business in a state, that state has the power to regulate what the company does within very broad limits,” Roosevelt said. “If the state wants to say it’s impermissible to provide funds for certain purposes, it can do that.”
Moreover, Roosevelt said, it will be easier to go after companies than individuals who are aiding women seeking abortions. “It’s going to get complicated — that’s all we know for sure,” he added.
Here are some of the companies that have adopted policies in response to the changing situation with abortion.
Accenture boosted its medical benefits to help employees living in states where abortion is banned: “To ensure our people have equitable access to the care provided under our healthcare programs, policies, and plans Accenture provides a full range of reproductive healthcare benefits,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “Our current benefits include travel assistance for any covered medical services that are not offered locally (within 100 miles of your residence). We are helping cover our people’s travel expenses — from their cab ride to the airport to airfare and lodging.”
The software company said in an emailed statement: “We have and will always prioritize inclusive benefits to create a world-class culture for our employees and ensure they have reliable access to medical treatment in consultation with their healthcare providers. In the U.S, our healthcare plans offer consistent access to care and resources, independent of geography, which includes the coverage of abortion services and travel or lodging that may be required to obtain those services.”
Buzzfeed’s response was explained by Jonah Peretti, the company’s founder and CEO, in an email to employees: “I’m writing to share in the outrage that so many of you are feeling about today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. The decision is so regressive and horrific for women that it compels us to step up as a company to ensure that any of our employees who are impacted have funding and access to safe abortions as needed. Effective immediately, we will provide a stipend for anyone residing in the 13 states with triggering abortion ending laws to cover the cost for travel and expenses required for access to safe abortion. The process around this will be completely confidential.”
Bank of America
Bank of America said through an emailed statement: “For employees and their dependents who are enrolled in our U.S. self-insured health plans, we have expanded the list of medical treatments that are eligible for travel expense reimbursement. This list will now include cancer treatment, organ transplants at centers of excellence, reproductive healthcare including abortion, and hospital admissions for mental health conditions.”
The Body Shop
The cosmetics company responded to the Supreme Court ruling with support for employees who might have difficulty getting an abortion. “The Body Shop is directly responding by providing support to employees affected by this decision, including any U.S. employees who may need expense reimbursement so they can secure safe care where it is legally available; offering paid time off for employees who need space for self-care, or for those who wish to take time off to volunteer or join local protests,” a representative said in an email.
“Abortion is healthcare, and healthcare is a human right,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We are deeply troubled by the Supreme Court decision. At Bumble, we believe in the right to choose and to exercise control over our bodies. The safety, privacy, and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all—and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to support our employees to get access to the healthcare services that they need.”
Dick's Sporting Goods
Dick's Sporting Goods assured employees that they would receive consistent and safe access to the benefits the company provides. Moreover, “in response to today’s ruling, we are announcing that if the state you live in restricts access to abortion, DICK’S Sporting Goods will provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available,” the company said in a statement. “This benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in our medical plan, along with one support person.”
Discord said through a spokesperson that “last week’s SCOTUS ruling took away the ability for millions of people, including members of our team, to access critical health services. In response, Discord will provide up to $5,000 annually for each full-time employee and their dependents to seek medical care outside their local area to access the resources they need.”
Estée Lauder Companies
The multinational cosmetics company, anticipating a potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, two weeks ago announced it would cover travel and lodging for those seeking an abortion. “As a company, we provide comprehensive benefits to our full-time benefits eligible and part-time benefits-enrolled employees that enable them to make personal health decisions,” the company said in an emailed statement. “These benefits extend to procedures related to women’s reproductive health, and we will now include coverage of travel and lodging necessary to access reproductive healthcare in the United States that may not be easily accessible or locally available to employees and their dependents enrolled in ELC’s medical plan.
The online travel company affirmed its commitment to supporting employees’ health and wellness. “We have a U.S. medical benefits policy in place to cover travel costs if employees are seeking healthcare that is not provided in their state,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “We take employee privacy very seriously and as such, employees have access to this benefit through their medical plan directly to maintain confidentiality and travel costs are reimbursed through their plan provider. An employee can take time off in accordance with our leave policies and do not need to note a reason.”
The clothing retailer said in an emailed statement that in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling, part- and full-time employees would be eligible for a financial assistance program if they resided in a state that prohibits or restricts abortion services: “The program will cover qualified travel and transportation expenses for those seeking related medical services that may only be available outside their residing state.”
The plant-based food company underscored its commitment to providing equal access to health care: “Health care is a central, fundamental right — not a privilege — at Impossible,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “That’s why we cover 100% of medical benefits for employees and their families. When we first heard about the Supreme Court’s impending decision last month, we immediately decided that the best possible healthcare for all of our employees must include access to reproductive care,” the representative added. “We made a commitment to cover travel expenses, including transportation, lodging, meals, and childcare, for employees and their partners to access reproductive health services not available in their state. Employee privacy is at the center of our commitment, and these instances will be handled confidentially like all employee leave.”
The software company responded in a statement: “Our employees’ health and well-being are and have always been our top priority. We support our employees’ access to comprehensive and equitable healthcare—no matter where they live. For many years we’ve offered health benefits designed to cover a broad range of reproductive healthcare. We have expanded our healthcare coverage to ensure that offering continues regardless of geography. We will continue to do what we can to best support employees’ ongoing access to the full range of healthcare that they believe is right for them.”
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
On June 1, the nation's biggest bank by assets told its employees about changes in health care benefits: “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.” A JPMorgan Chase spokesperson added, “As always, we’re focused on the health and well-being of our employees, and want to ensure equitable access to all benefits.”
Lyft criticized the Supreme Court ruling in a blog post by Kristin Sverchek, president of business affairs: “This decision will hurt millions of women by taking away access to safe, and private reproductive healthcare services. Sverchek also said the company was committed to providing “team members with undisrupted access to safe and critical healthcare services. Lyft’s U.S. medical benefits plan includes coverage for elective abortion and reimbursement for travel costs if an employee must travel more than 100 miles for an in-network provider.” Moreover, Sverchek said, the company will defend drivers ferrying customers to abortions clinics: “in the past year, states including Texas and Oklahoma have enacted abortion bans that also threaten to punish rideshare drivers. We’ve taken action to protect our community from these laws and today we will extend our legal defense commitment to other states if they pass similar laws.”
Nike includes abortion in its family planning benefits. “No matter where our teammates are on their family planning journey –from contraception and abortion coverage, to pregnancy and family-building support through fertility, surrogacy and adoption benefits—we are here to support their decisions,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We cover travel and lodging expenses in situations where services are not available close to home and regularly make adjustments to our benefits to ensure employees have access to the quality healthcare they need.”
The outdoor clothing brand announced in a statement on LinkedIn: “U.S. employees on our health plans are covered for abortion care. Where restrictions exist, travel, lodging and food are covered.”
PwC told its employees: “Through our insurance we also offer health care services and related expenses for pregnancy termination. And through the PwC Charitable Foundation and the People Who Care Fund, our people can apply for financial assistance grants based on hardship needs to cover items such as travel, lodging or expenses, whether that be pregnancy-related, cancer treatments or something else.”
Helen Russell, the electric vehicle automaker's chief people officer shared a statement on June 24 addressing the Supreme Court’s ruling with employees: “We believe a person’s right to choose when it comes to their body and reproductive health is a fundamental human right. It was without hesitation that we took action to protect our employees’ access to reproductive care when we heard about the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade by covering up to $5,000 of travel expenses for those in the U.S. who need it. This includes all employees and dependents on our medical plans.”
On June 24, the company updated a statement on its website detailing benefits concerning abortion: “We have provided partners enrolled in Starbucks healthcare plan a medical travel reimbursement benefit to access an abortion, and coming soon, access to gender-affirming care.”
Vox Media’s CEO on June 24 shared a note with employees describing how it would help: “Vox Media will provide financial support to cover eligible expenses related to travel to receive critical health care that is unavailable within 100 miles of an employee’s home, including abortion and gender-affirming care, among other critical health needs. A reimbursement of up to $1,500 can be used to cover travel-related expenses (such as transportation, meals, and lodging). Learn more about this reimbursement and how the process will respect your privacy in the US employee handbook.”
Warner Bros. Discovery
“Warner Bros. Discovery is committed to offering our employees across the country access to consistent and comprehensive healthcare services,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “In light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, we immediately expanded our healthcare benefits options to cover transportation expenses for employees and their covered family members who need to travel to access abortion and reproductive care.”
Yelp in May started covering travel expenses for women seeking an abortion in a state where it is banned.
The real estate marketplace offered to cover expenses for employees who had to seek care out of state. “We strongly support our employees’ right to make health care choices that are right for them, and we will continue to do so,” a Zillow spokesperson said in an email. “Our health benefits cover the full range of reproductive health care services — including abortion, whether patient-elected, medically necessary, or both. And, effective June 1, we updated our health plan to reimburse up to $7,500 each time travel is necessary to access abortion, other reproductive health care services or gender-affirming care. Moving forward, we will continue to ensure our coverage includes safe access to reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible.”