News & Commentary

June 27, 2022

Fred Wang

Fred Wang is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, employers react to Dobbs with criticism, internal policy change, or silence.

Employers — in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overrule Roe v. Wade — are offering to reimburse travel expenses for employees who cross state lines to access safe, legal abortions. Companies such as Disney and Dick’s Sporting Goods have promised to cover travel expenses to obtain abortions as part of their employment health-benefits plans. The decision surely provides some relief for many, many workers whose lives are now troublingly complicated by the Court’s decision in Dobbs.

But even pro-choice advocates have raised hesitations with these initiatives. Some have voiced privacy concerns with having to let your employer know that you are even getting an abortion. Some have discussed the problem of further tying the average American’s access to basic health care to their employer. And some are worried that employers will leverage these benefits in anti-worker ways, such as to discourage union activity. For example, Starbucks — which has offered to help pay for employee abortion-travel expenses — has said that it could not “make promises of guarantees about any benefits” for unionized stores. Of course, there is no compelling reason for Starbucks to deny these benefits to workers at its unionized stores. The real motivation, some suggest, is to “sabotage the union effort.”

Most of these employers, however, have offered little in the way of actual criticism of Dobbs’s holding. Likely because abortion is such a uniquely politically charged issue, large companies have approached the merits of the decision with abundant caution. Some have not even mentioned whether the decision would trigger further changes in company policy.

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