Several U.S. corporates have come out promising to cover travel costs for employees who decide to leave their home states to get abortions in states where abortion is legal. According to legal experts, these new policies expose those companies to lawsuits.
Among the businesses that announced their support to their workers through their health insurance are Amazon.com Inc, Lyft Inc, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Apple Inc, Walt Disney Co, Citigroup, Bank of America, Meta Inc, and Goldman Sachs, following the contentious U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe V. Wade countrywide abortion legalization law on Friday.
“We will continue to provide benefits that support our colleagues’ family planning choices wherever we are legally permitted to do so,” Sara Wetcher, Citigroup’s head of H.R., wrote a memo shortly after the ruling. Microsoft reported extending its financial support for “critical healthcare” after the draft version of the verdict leaked.
Zuckerberg’s Meta said it would be offering travel expense reimbursement within the law to its employees as Apple announced that their existing benefits package would also cover employees planning to travel to another state for medical care. Other companies that have stated they will be offering support are entertainment giants Netflix, Disney, Conde Nast, and Warner Bros.
Roger Lynch, the chief executive of Conde Nast, sent a memo to staff minutes after the announcement terming the court’s ruling as “a crushing blow to reproductive rights.” More corporates, including the health insurer Cigna Group, came out on Friday announcing reimbursement policies, which many legal experts felt was a protest against the new law and would result in legal suits in the coming days.
Thirteen states, including Texas, with “trigger bans,” were anticipating the strike down of Roe. The ruling took effect immediately in at least eight states, while the rest are expected to prohibit abortion in a month. The court also upheld a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. While Republican-led states embraced the news, some Democratic-led states intend to make abortion legal within their borders.
The companies have to read and understand different state laws as they are likely to face resistance from anti-abortion groups and states that upheld the anti-abortion law if they decide to adopt policies that seek to support employees having abortions.
Texas Threatens to Take Swift Action Against Companies Abetting Abortion
Texas lawmakers have already threatened to take Lyft and Citigroup Inc to court over their earlier announcement of travel reimbursement policies. The Republican lawmakers in Texas also stated that they’d take swift action against the companies. They have also presented a bill to bar companies that pay for Texan residents to receive abortions elsewhere from doing business in the state.
It’s a matter of time before corporates face lawsuits from anti-abortion groups, campaigners, and lawmakers for abetting abortions, according to the University of Illinois law professor and healthcare law expert Robin Fretwell Wilson.
“If you can sue me as a person for carrying your daughter across state lines, you can sue Amazon for paying for it,” Wilson added.
The companies might use The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) for their defense. The act prohibits all states from adopting employer-sponsored health plan-related requirements. Courts have referred to the act for decades to block state laws from dictating what healthcare plans cover.
Should Investors Care
Any increase in costs should be a concern to investors because it means these will impact the companies overall costs. Lower revenues could affect the stock prices. Otherwise, its a watch and wait situation how different companies profits will perform after the change in legislation.
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