A number of companies are announcing plans to expand healthcare for workers seeking abortions in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Constitutional right to end a pregnancy.
Disney, JPMorgan, and Condé Nast all said on June 24 they will pay for travel if employees cannot secure an abortion in their home state. Their announcements follow similar moves large corporations including Apple, Amazon, Citigroup, and Microsoft, which all said they would cover travel and in some cases, medical care, following a draft opinion which showed the high court set to overturn Roe.
Though it’s not uncommon for U.S. companies to cover travel if workers are seeking a medical procedure that’s not available close to where they live, firms expanding abortion healthcare will have to take myriad legal considerations into account. As the liberal Supreme Court justices noted in their dissent, the decision creates a legal pathway for states to “block women from traveling out of state to obtain abortions,” as well as “criminalize efforts, including the provision of information or funding, to help women gain access to other states’ abortion services.”
“There may be a risk to employers who add travel expenses for abortion services under state abortion bans that include liability for aiding and abetting violations of the abortion ban,” said Gretchen Harders, an employee benefits attorney with the law firm Epstein Becker Green.
The software developer behind the video game Destiny 2 said they will implement a travel reimbursement program for any employee who can’t get access to the healthcare they need where they live. The company called the overturning of Roe a “blow to freedom in America” when the draft decision first leaked.
Roger Lynch, the CEO of media company Condé Nast, called the decision “a crushing blow to reproductive rights” and said employees seeking abortions are now eligible for reimbursement on travel and lodging.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Lauren Hobart, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods said on LinkedIn the company will reimburse up to $4,000 in expenses for employees to travel to the nearest location where care is available. Hobart said the benefit will apply to any teammate, spouse, or dependent rolled in the company’s medical plan.
The entertainment company said it will cover travel expenses for employees, including those for “pregnancy-related decisions.”
“We recognize the impact of the ruling and that we remain committed to providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care for all of our employees, cast members and their families, including family planning and reproductive care, no matter where they live,” Disney told the Washington Post.
The bank told employees on June 1 it will roll out expanded healthcare benefits starting next month, with a travel benefit that includes “health care services that can only be obtained far from your home.” The company confirmed that this expanded travel benefit includes abortions.
The parent company of Facebook and Instagram said they “intend to offer travel expense reimbursements, to the extent permitted by law for employees who will need them to access out-of-state health care and reproductive services.” They added, though, that they’re still assessing how best to do so, “given the legal complexities involved.”
A Netflix spokesperson told Variety the company offers travel reimbursement coverage for full-time U.S. employees and their dependents, including those who need to travel for abortions.
“Across the country, we have entered a moment of profound uncertainty,” wrote Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish and chief people officer Nancy Phillips in a memo to staff. They said the company will support “the choices our employees make about their own health care,” and will offer reproductive health care through the company’s sponsored insurance, “including coverage for birth control, elective abortion care, miscarriage care and certain related travel expenses if the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your area.”
The Observer will update this story as it develops.