These corporations wrote 6-figure checks to elect governors who will ban abortion
The Supreme Court's decision last month in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health ended the constitutional right to an abortion. But for millions of women, their practical access to reproductive healthcare in the future remains up in the air. Much depends on the results of the midterm elections — particularly the gubernatorial contests.
Arizona, for example, passed a law this year that bans abortion after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. It is scheduled to go into effect this fall. But the results of the race for governor this November could determine whether the state permits abortion at any time.
The leading Republican candidate, former TV anchor Kari Lake, says she wants to close all abortion clinics in the state. Lake, who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, said she also would consider supporting legislation banning FDA-approved abortion pills. “I believe that abortion is the ultimate sin,” Lake said in a May radio interview.
The prohibitive favorite in the Democratic race, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, says that, if elected, she "will use [her] veto pen to block any legislation that compromises the right to choose." Hobbs also launched a petition drive for a ballot initiative to amend the Arizona constitution to protect abortion rights. She had until July 7 to collect 356,467 signatures to get on the ballot in November. The state has not announced yet whether enough valid signatures were collected.
Arizona is a swing state and the gubernatorial race is expected to be very close. A decisive factor could be extravagant spending by the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The RGA has already reserved $10.2 million in ad time to defeat Hobbs and support the Republican nominee. The massive expenditure "covers airtime in Phoenix and Tucson media markets from Aug. 3 through Election Day on Nov. 8." This is just the beginning. According to Politico, the RGA "is expected to announce more spending throughout the midterm election cycle."
To put the RGA's spending in perspective, $10.2 million is more than half of what the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Arizona spent in the 2018 election combined.
Where does the RGA get so much money? A significant portion comes from direct corporate contributions. This includes large donations from corporations that claim to be committed to protecting reproductive rights for their employees.
In May, Microsoft, which has major operations in Arizona, declared that it would "support employees and their enrolled dependents in accessing critical health care — which already includes services like abortion… regardless of where they live across the US." That policy includes "travel expense assistance." Microsoft reiterated the policy after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in June, adding that it will "continue to do everything we can under the law to support our employees and their enrolled dependents in accessing critical health care."
But, in March 2021, Microsoft donated $250,000 to the RGA — money that will be used to elect candidates like Lake that would limit access to abortion for Microsoft employees.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
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DoorDash and the future of abortion rights in Michigan
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) is the only person preventing the imposition of a total abortion ban. Whitmer, who is up for reelection in November, filed a lawsuit to prevent the enforcement of a 1931 ban that "punishes performing or obtaining abortion with up to four years in prison." There are no exceptions for rape or incest. As a result of Whitmer's lawsuit, enforcement of the 1931 law has been put on hold.
The leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, real estate investor Ryan Kelley, says he supports the 1931 law. "I do believe that there are no exceptions for abortion except for the life of the mother," Kelley said. (Kelly has been criminally charged for his involvement in the Capitol riot on January 6.)
Kelley's top rival for the Republican nomination, chiropractor Garrett Soldano, agreed, saying he is "100% unapologetically pro-life."
Even if Michigan courts were to invalidate the 1931 law, a Republican governor would have no trouble imposing a new abortion ban. The Michigan House and Senate are controlled by Republicans who oppose abortion rights.
The RGA has already reserved $3.5 million in television time in Michigan to defeat Whitmer and elect the Republican nominee. Among those supporting the RGA's efforts is DoorDash, a food delivery company that employs thousands of full-time workers in Michigan and Arizona.
DoorDash announced last month that it believes it is "paramount that all DoorDash employees and their dependents covered on our health plans have equitable, timely access to safe healthcare." As a result, DoorDash will "cover certain travel-related expenses for employees who face new barriers to access and need to travel out of state for abortion-related care." (This benefit does not apply to DoorDash delivery workers, who the company considers independent contractors.)
On March 3, 2022, DoorDash donated $100,000 from its corporate treasury to the RGA.
In response to a request for comment, DoorDash Director of Public Affairs Campbell Millum said that the company has contributed to a "variety of organizations and causes, including the RGA and the DGA." According to Millum, DoorDash will "continue to engage with lawmakers and other decision-makers who influence policies that impact the communities we serve." Millum did not respond to a question about whether DoorDash was concerned that its large donation to the RGA would undercut the company's efforts to make abortion available to its full-time employees.
AT&T and the future of abortion rights in Florida
In Florida, a new law bans abortion after 15 weeks. (The law, which was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, has been temporarily stayed by a state judge.) But Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who is running for reelection, says he "will work to expand pro-life protections" now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
Florida's legislature is controlled by Republicans that oppose abortion rights.
DeSantis' top Democratic opponents, Congressman Charlie Crist and Flordia Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried both support abortion rights and have vowed to veto any further restrictions.
AT&T, which employs 13,000 people in Florida, is using its financial resources to help DeSantis stay in office. The company donated $50,000 directly to DeSantis' reelection campaign on October 29, 2021, and $250,000 to the RGA on June 30, 2021.
After the Dobbs decision, AT&T announced that it would pay travel expenses for employees who could not obtain an abortion within 100 miles of their home. "The health of our employees and their families is important to our company," the company said.
AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.
CVS and the future of abortion rights in Ohio
In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill banning abortion after about 6 weeks in 2019. The bill was put on hold by federal courts but, hours after the Dobbs decision, DeWine signed an executive order putting the law into effect. Shortly thereafter, a 10-year-old child abuse victim was forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana to receive an abortion.
Now, DeWine reportedly supports even harsher restrictions on reproductive rights in Ohio. Representative Jean Schmidt (R) has introduced a bill in the Ohio legislature that would ban almost all abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Schmidt's bill also "creates a new misdemeanor crime of 'promoting' abortion," which Schmidt suggested could be used against companies that pay for their employees to travel out of state for an abortion.
Schmidt was confident her bill could pass sometime after the next election. "I do believe we have the votes in both chambers, and we have the full support of the governor on this bill," she said. According to the Ohio Capitol Journal, a "spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine did not dispute Schmidt’s characterization of DeWine’s support for her bill, and noted that the governor has previously expressed support for conceptually similar legislation."
DeWine's Democratic opponent, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, supports abortion rights.
CVS has thrown its financial support behind DeWine. CVS donated $10,000 through its PAC to DeWine's reelection campaign on June 3, 2022, and $280,000 in corporate funds to the RGA since 2021.
CVS, which operates 389 pharmacy stores in Ohio, has pledged to support its employees' right to choose by "making out-of-state abortion healthcare services more accessible and affordable." CVS did not respond to a request for comment.
Other companies writing six-figure checks to the RGA
Other companies writing six-figure checks to the RGA since 2021 while touting policies to cover abortion-related travel for employees include Amazon ($425,900), Cigna ($141,800), Comcast ($250,450), Google ($125,450), Intuit ($100,000), and Wells Fargo ($101,800).
On June 27, Popular Information reported that Match Group, which operates Match, Tinder, Hinge, and other popular dating sites, had donated $137,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). RAGA played a central role in the legal strategy in Dobbs, which ended the constitutional right to an abortion. In a recent fundraising email, RAGA pledged that donations would be used to further undermine abortion rights across the country.
On July 7, Match Group announced it would stop donating to RAGA. Match Group CEO Bernard Kim said he only learned of Match's donation to RAGA after Popular Information published its report.
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