A year of attacks against reproductive rights culminated in the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24, with communities around the nation responding in protest. The decision also reinvigorated a growing business response to abortion access, with dozens of employers pledging to cover their employees’ costs for abortion travel or care.
These employers are attempting to join an already deeply established, historic network of activists, nonprofits, and other reproductive health and justice organizations who offer support to people seeking abortions around the country — these grassroots efforts include national abortion funds, clinic networks, and other means of practical support for those on the ground, including grants for out-of-state travel. Organizations like the National Abortion Federation, Abortion Care Network, and the National Network of Abortion Funds help connect individuals to providers or others who can provide assistance, including a network of independent, community-based abortion providers.
Employer support through covered health plans or monetary reimbursement adds another, albeit more corporate, layer to this fold of reproductive health access, but the announcements have also prompted justified concern about an employer’s right to your personal health information.
And at the same time, some experts say employers should anticipate legal backlash from state lawmakers and those standing in the way of accessible abortion, Reuters reports. Other legal professionals contend they’ll be protected in civil lawsuits by federal laws overseeing employer-sponsored healthcare and employees, including the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (or ERISA). ERISA prohibits states from enacting requirements that relate to such health plans, but wouldn’t apply to criminal cases.
Even so, employers — especially corporate tech and media giants — have the resources and ability to take on legal risk far beyond that of the individuals seeking abortion care. It’s well past the time for wealthy companies to step up and protect their employees’ right to choose. Also important to note: many of these businesses have balked at, or directly contributed to, other harmful legislation that fails to protect the rights of those within the LGBTQ community.
Here are the organizations that have made initial pledges to do so in varying capacities: