Corporate-paid abortion not necessarily rooted in altruism

Adrienne Lawrence
Liberal Opinion

Adrienne Lawrence

Legal commentator
Archive |

With the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade, a number of high-profile companies have come out in support of employees seeking access to abortions. Netflix, Nike and JPMorgan Chase are only some of the firms announcing policies to cover travel, in some cases, up to $10,000. Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence believes some of these seemingly altruistic moves are actually financially motivated:

While these companies are doing the right thing in terms of using their resources to ensure employees have complete health care access, let’s not lose sight of the self-serving nature of such a decision. The reality is that these companies have a financial incentive to pay for abortion care for their employees. Basically, it cost more for these employers not to. Think about it. Paying for an employee’s travel costs — and possibly a medical abortion — likely wouldn’t exceed a few thousand tax-deductible dollars — if that. A company stands to lose far more if it must provide maternity leave, particularly if the company offers paid leave. Not to mention dodging costs associated with potential turnover should the employee wish to quit because they do not want to live in a state where their reproductive rights are so limited.

On that note, it’s not lost on me that several of these companies created the very issue they now are purporting to rescue their employees from. Remember, some of these companies who have come out in support, also relocated to red states recently to enjoy business-related tax breaks. For example, within the last year, hedge fund giant Citadel relocated from Chicago to Miami, and Tesla from the San Francisco Bay Area to Austin, Texas. The economic benefits of moving to a red state may be countered by the inability to keep and/or attract viable talent willing to gamble with their human rights.

These are things companies do not necessarily want to entertain given the costs to their business. That reality undoubtedly played a role in their decision to offer employees and their dependents abortion access. It’s not an exercise in ethics but simply a cost-benefit analysis. 

With the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade, corporate America has entered the conversation as a number of big businesses vow to support employees in need of abortion access. But let’s not get it twisted: this support isn’t necessarily rooted in altruism and, if businesses want the goodwill, they need to do more. 

 A number of big businesses in the U.S. have been swift and vocal about their support of employees in need of access to abortion care. Starbucks, Tesla, Yelp, AirBNB, Netflix, PayPal, among others — voiced support when a draft of the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe leaked in early May. It was then that this handful of corporate giants announced that they would, at a minimum, cover travel expenses for employees in need of abortion care. When the final opinion dropped on Friday, however, many more companies joined in support. Goldman Sachs, Nike, Disney, Meta, JPMorgan, Condé Nast, are among a growing list of big names that are financially supporting employees who many need abortion access.

 For example, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods said in part: “In response to today’s ruling, we are announcing that if a state one of our teammates lives 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. This benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in our medical plan, along with one support person…” 

While these companies are doing the right thing in terms of using their resources to ensure employees have complete health care access, let’s not lose sight of the self-serving nature of such a decision. The reality is that these companies have a financial incentive to pay for abortion care for their employees. Basically, it cost more for these employers not to. Think about it… While paying for an employee’s travel costs and possibly a medical abortion likely wouldn’t exceed a few thousand tax-deductible dollars—if that, a company stands to lose far more if it must provide maternity leave—particularly if the company offers paid leave…. Not to mention dodging costs associated with potential turnover should the employee wish to quit because they do not want to live in a state where their reproductive rights are so limited. On that note, it’s not lost on me that several of these companies created the very issue they now are purporting to rescue their employees from… Remember: some of these companies who have come out in support also relocated to red states recently to enjoy business-related tax breaks. For example, within the last year, hedge fund giant Citadel relocated from Chicago to Miami, and Tesla from the San Francisco Bay Area to Austin, Texas. The economic benefits of moving to a red state may be countered by the inability to keep and/or attract viable talent willing to gamble with their human rights. These are things companies do not necessarily want to entertain given the costs to their business. That reality undoubtedly played a role in their decision to offer employees and their dependents abortion access. It’s not an exercise in ethics but simply a cost-benefit analysis. 

 While I certainly appreciate offering abortion access to employees and am not suggesting companies retract, corporate America needs to do more if they want to earn the goodwill of those who are paying attention. For example, companies can show up for abortion access by checking their campaign contributions and political donations. It’s imperative that corporate America stop funneling funds to candidates and lawmakers who do not support abortion as a fundamental human right. It does no good to ensure employees access to abortion all while investing in lawmakers who oppose abortion. As well, companies can show support by using their resources to protect those who are pushing back. This past week, Patagonia said it would provide bail for employees who are arrested while protesting the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. That’s big. Not only does it encourage the exercise of first amendment rights of protest but it communicates support of it. 

 We need companies that are invested in ensuring our society is moving forward, is progressing. We simply cannot afford to go backward.


Get unbiased straight facts, context, and perspective!