The hypocrisy of abortion as a corporate perk
In response to the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, which invalidated the constitutional right to an abortion that was in place for almost 50 years, several dozen prominent corporations have announced new health care policies. While the details vary, these companies say they will cover travel costs for employees that need an abortion but are unable to obtain one locally.
Abortion is already banned in 8 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah) and will be banned in 6 additional states within a month (Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming). Other states are expected to ban abortion soon.
While corporate policies that cover out-of-state travel expenses for an abortion may benefit some people, there are problems with this approach. Depending on how the policies are implemented, employees may have to sacrifice their privacy to take advantage of the travel benefit. Some employees, such as single parents or those responsible for the care of an elderly relative, may not have the flexibility to travel.
More broadly, most employers do not plan on offering this benefit. A May 25 survey found only 5% of companies planned to provide "supplemental insurance to cover out-of-state reproductive care" if Roe was overturned and just 4% would "[c]over [the] complete cost of travel to [a] healthcare facility." The nation's largest employer, Arkansas-based Walmart, which employs 2.3 million people, has not announced a policy to cover out-of-state abortions. The same goes for many of the country's other largest employers, including FedEx, Home Depot, UPS, and Target. Also left out are contract workers, students, and the unemployed.
In other words, these policies are a very poor substitute for a legal right to an abortion. Nevertheless, many companies that are announcing policies to cover travel costs for out-of-state abortions are funding political groups dedicated to further undermining abortion rights.
Match Group, the Dallas-based company which operates popular dating sites including Match, Tinder, Hinge, and OK Cupid, established a fund to cover the costs of out-of-state abortions after Texas banned most abortions last year. CEO Shar Dubey sent this message to Match Group's 2500 employees in September 2021:
I immigrated to America from India over 25 years ago and I have to say, as a Texas resident, I am shocked that I now live in a state where women’s reproductive laws are more regressive than most of the world, including India. Surely everyone should see the danger of this highly punitive and unfair law that doesn’t even make an exception for victims of rape or incest…
…[T]his particular law is so regressive to the cause of women’s rights that I felt compelled to speak publicly about my personal views.
I also wanted to let you know that I am setting up a fund to ensure that if any of our Texas-based employees or a dependent find themselves impacted by this legislation and need to seek care outside of Texas, the fund will help cover the additional costs incurred.
But in 2021, Match Group also donated $137,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). Why does that matter? RAGA, by its own admission, played a central role in Dobbs. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R), a member of RAGA, was in charge of the legal strategy to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion.
In a fundraising email last Friday, RAGA pledged that future donations would be used to further undermine abortion rights across the country. "These battles to protect the unborn will now take place at the state level, where the courageous conservative leadership of Republican Attorneys General has never been more critical," the email says. "Every donation will help Republican Attorneys General combat the Democrats' pro-abortion agenda and stand tall for life."
Now that Roe has been overturned, Republican Attorneys General are already working to restrict access to abortion pills and prosecute people who assist women in obtaining an abortion. RAGA will play an important role in supporting these efforts and installing Attorneys General in more states who will work to eliminate abortion rights.
In Wisconsin, for example, there is a statute banning abortion, enacted in 1849, that has been unenforceable since Roe. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) has said he will "not investigate or prosecute anyone for having an abortion" based on the archaic state law. RAGA, however, has already reserved $682,250 in TV ad time for spots opposing Kaul. In 2018, RAGA spent $2.8 million in an unsuccessful effort to defeat Kaul. This year RAGA is supporting Eric Toney, who has pledged to enforce the abortion ban if elected.
Popular Information contacted Match Group and asked whether it would continue to support RAGA. The company did not respond.
Yelp pays for abortion-related travel, stops donations to RAGA
Perhaps no company has been more openly critical of the Dobbs decision than Yelp. “This ruling puts women’s health in jeopardy, denies them their human rights, and threatens to dismantle the progress we’ve made toward gender equality in the workplaces since Roe,” Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement. “Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law.” Earlier this year, Yelp instituted a policy covering out-of-state travel for abortions.
Yelp donated $15,000 to RAGA in 2021. But, as Popular Information previously reported, Yelp suspended its support for RAGA following revelations that RAGA helped build the crowd in DC on January 6. (RAGA reported the donation to the IRS as received in February 2021. Yelp says the donation was approved prior to January 6.) In response to a request for comment, Yelp told Popular Information that it does not plan to donate to RAGA in the future. The company also said that it will consider policy positions that violate its employees’ human rights before making any political contribution.
The corporations paying for abortion-related travel that back RAGA
Match Group is one of several companies that publicly announced policies to help employees access out-of-state abortion while quietly using corporate funds to support RAGA.
In a Friday email to its employees obtained by Popular Information, GoPuff, a food and home goods delivery service, announced its "Reproductive Rights and Access Policy." The company will "provide travel-related reimbursement up to $3,000 per medical plan year for employees and dependents enrolled in our medical plans who cannot access reproductive health care within 100 miles of their home."
Not mentioned in the email to the company's 10,000 employees is that GoPuff donated $50,000 to RAGA on February 1, 2022. GoPuff did not respond to a request for comment.
JPMorgan announced Friday that it "is expanding travel benefits for any covered service that can only be obtained more than 50 miles from an employee’s home." The benefit, which goes into effect on July 1, includes abortion. "As always, we’re focused on the health and well-being of our employees, and want to ensure equitable access to all benefits," Trish Wexler, head of Corporate Communications for JPMorgan, told the Washington Post.
On March 21, 2022, JPMorgan donated $25,000 to RAGA. JPMorgan did not respond to a request for comment.
In May, after the draft decision in Dobbs was leaked, T-Mobile "expanded employee benefits to cover travel costs for abortions if the procedures aren’t available locally." In a memo to employees, CEO Mike Sievert said the company was committed to meeting the "full range of your health care needs."
In 2021, T-Mobile donated $100,000 to RAGA. T-Mobile did not respond to a request for comment.
Other corporations that have announced policies covering employee travel for abortion that have donated to RAGA since 2021 include AT&T ($125,000), Bank of America ($25,000), Cigna ($67,000), Comcast ($216,000), Mastercard ($25,000), and Uber ($50,000). None of these companies responded to a request for comment.