How should retail companies best navigate the abortion controversy?
A leaked initial draft of an opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that indicates the court will overturn Roe versus Wade and put the power to regulate abortions, including making them illegal, in the hands of states instead of the federal government has become a business issue overnight.
Amazon.com, Apple and Levi Strauss & Co. and others have come forward with medical travel programs to assist women who may find their access to an abortion limited or nonexistent, depending on where they live in the country.
A blog post on the Levi Strauss site expressed the company’s position on the issue: “Access to reproductive health care, including abortion, has been a critical factor to the workplace gains and contributions women have made over the past 50 years. Further restricting or criminalizing access will jeopardize that progress and disproportionately affect women of color, putting their well-being at risk and impeding diverse hiring pipelines. Women in some states would have fewer rights than women in others, and our country would be consigned to a more unjust and inequitable future. What’s more, companies would need different health policies for different locations — including coverage for time off and travel across state lines — to ensure employees can access reproductive health care.”
Levi’s said current employees enrolled in its health program have access to travel expenses to cover fees should they need to leave their home state to seek an abortion. The company added that an internal process is underway to extend the same benefits to part-time workers.
Other companies including Amazon.com, Apple, Citigroup and Yelp have made similar offers to employees working in states that have recently passed laws making it more difficult to get a legal abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health and rights, forecasts that 26 states would directly outlaw or severely restrict access to abortions should the Supreme Court decide to strike down the previous legal precedent.
Amazon on Monday informed its staff that it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses annually for them to receive non-life threatening medical care not available within 100 miles of where they live. The company made the new benefit retroactively effective to Jan. 1, reports Reuters.
Apple has notified retail employees in Oklahoma and Texas, two states that have passed restrictive abortion laws this year, that it will cover travel expenses should they need to travel for abortions.
- Read Justice Alito’s initial draft abortion opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade – Politico
- Protecting Reproductive Rights – A Business Imperative – Levi Strauss & Co.
- Abortion and female labor force participation: Evidence prior to Roe v. Wade – Journal of Labor Research/Springer Nature
- Minority women most affected if abortion is banned, limited – ABC News
- Socioeconomic Outcomes of Women Who Receive and Women Who Are Denied Wanted Abortions in the United States – National Library of Medicine/PubMed Central
- Amazon to reimburse U.S. employees who travel for abortions, other treatments – Reuters
- How U.S. companies are supporting workers on abortion – Tribune News Service/The Philadelpia Inquirer
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would the ending of legal abortions in some states and not others put companies in a position of having to establish different health policies based on the location of workers? How should retailer and consumer brand businesses best navigate the controversy surrounding the possible overturning of Roe V. Wade?