Legal analyst's predictions for Supreme Court decisions this year

Legal analyst's predictions for Supreme Court decisions this year

April 12, 2022

New York (CNN Business)Yelp has joined a growing list of companies supporting abortion access for their employees in the face of state laws that effectively ban it.

In a statement Tuesday, the same day Oklahoma’s governor signed a near-total abortion ban, Yelp said it would cover travel expenses for any of its employees or their dependents who are forced to seek abortion care out of state.
“We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s health care rights are restricted,” said Miriam Warren, Yelp’s chief diversity officer.

    Citigroup (C), Match (MTCH), Bumble, Lyft (LYFT) and Uber (UBER) have announced similar support for staff in states where access to abortion is being curtailed.

      Corporate America is increasingly being drawn from the political sidelines in response to demands from investors, customers and employees. When Moscow sparked international outrage by invading Ukraine over a month ago, dozens of companies swiftly abandoned or scaled back their operations in Russia.

      Executives are also learning how difficult it can be to craft a political message without angering one side or another. Take Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who last month initially failed to condemn Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay bill, only to backtrack and take a stronger stance against the legislation when the company’s staff and fans pushed back.
      Last year, as several states pushed legislation that would make it harder for some citizens to vote, hundreds of prominent executives from companies including Amazon, Google, BlackRock and Starbucks signed a statement opposing the bills.

        As the anti-abortion measures wind their way through Republican-led state governments, a handful of businesses have announced assistance for their staff in those areas.
        Oklahoma is the latest Republican-led state to severely restrict abortion, following Texas, Arizona, South Dakota and Idaho.
        Last month, Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed into law a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks, similar to a Mississippi law that is being heard by the Supreme Court. South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem signed legislation that further restricts access to medication-induced abortions in the state.
        In Idaho, the state Supreme Court temporarily blocked legislation modeled after the Texas law, which bans abortions after about six weeks and allows private citizens to enforce the restrictions with lawsuits against doctors, nurses, clinics, or anyone else who helps someone get an abortion after the six-week window has closed.
        Here are the companies offering additional assistance to staff in states restricting abortion care.

        Citigroup

        Citigroup in March became one of the largest US companies to commit to covering employees’ travel costs if they need to leave their state to seek an abortion.
        “In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” Citi said in a letter to shareholders as part of its annual proxy statement.

        Bumble

        The dating app company, which is based in Austin, in September created a fund “supporting the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in Texas.”
        “Bumble is women-founded and women-led, and from day one we’ve stood up for the most vulnerable. We’ll keep fighting against regressive laws like #SB8,” it said on Twitter the week the legislation went into effect last fall.
        Relief funds will go to organizations that support women’s reproductive rights including Fund Texas Choice, according to Bumble.

        Match Group

        The Dallas-based company that owns Match.com and dating apps such as Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge, also announced in September a fund to ensure its employees and their dependents would be able to seek care outside of Texas.
        “The company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business,” said CEO Shar Dubey in a memo at the time. “But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent.”

        Lyft & Uber

        The ride-sharing rivals both announced in September that they would create legal defense funds to protect any drivers who might be sued under the Texas law for driving a person who receives an abortion.
        The law’s wording leaves open the possibility that a driver could be sued, possibly even if they didn’t know an abortion was happening, according to Elizabeth Sepper, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
        Lyft also said it would donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood “to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access.”

        Yelp

        A representative for the San Francisco-based company said its employee health insurance already covered abortion care, but starting in May, Yelp will cover travel expenses for any US employees and their dependents who need to travel out of state to access abortion care.
        The benefit extends to staff and dependents affected by any current or future restrictions on reproductive rights.

          As a remote-first company with a distributed workforce, “it’s a priority for us to offer our employees consistent healthcare coverage, regardless of where they live,” a representative said.
          — CNN Business’ Charles Riley and David Goldman contributed reporting.
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