US Companies Covering Employees’ Abortions Could Face Lawsuits

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee approved one of the nation's strictest abortion laws in July of last year, prohibiting abortion once a fetal heartbeat is found at about six weeks, which is typically before a woman learns she is pregnant.
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A growing number of major American corporations have announced that they will pay for employees’ travel expenses when they have to leave their home states to get abortions, but legal experts have warned that these new practices could subject corporations to legal action and even criminal prosecution, Reuters reports.

Companies including Amazon, Apple, Lyft, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced intentions to offer those services via their health insurance plans in front of Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision reversing the important 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had allowed abortions in all 50 states.

Conde Nast CEO Roger Lynch wrote a message to workers outlining a travel reimbursement policy and referring to the court’s judgment as “a catastrophic blow to reproductive rights” within an hour of the verdict being made public. According to a spokeswoman, Walt Disney Co. issued a similar policy on Friday, informing staff that while it acknowledges the implications of the abortion verdict, it is nonetheless dedicated to providing full access to high-quality healthcare.

On Friday, companies such as Alaska Airlines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Paypal Holdings, and health insurer Cigna Corp disclosed their reimbursement practices.

Following Friday’s decision, abortion restrictions that were already in place in 13 states took effect, and at least a dozen other Republican-led states are anticipated to follow suit.

The court maintained a Mississippi statute that forbids abortion beyond 15 weeks in its ruling, which was influenced by its conservative majority. However, several states with a Democratic governor are taking steps to increase access to abortion.

If businesses implement policies encouraging workers to get abortions, they will have to navigate the patchwork of state laws and risk angering anti-abortion organizations and Republican-led states.

Texas state lawmakers have previously threatened Citigroup and Lyft with legal ramifications after they unveiled trip reimbursement policies earlier this year. In a letter sent to Lyft CEO Logan Green last month, a group of Republican senators threatened the ride-hailing business that if it adopted the policy, Texas “would take immediate and decisive action.”

The lawmakers also provided a list of measures pertaining to abortion, such as one that would prohibit businesses from operating in Texas if they paid for Texans to get abortions overseas.

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