companies offering to pay for abortion travel: genuine help or performative stunt?

A reader writes:

I’m sure you’ve seen the policy releases from large companies promising employees and their dependents reimbursement if they are in a state that has banned abortion and they need to travel out of state to obtain one.

How do you see the impact on this in terms of medical privacy? On the one hand, hooray for these companies for doing the right thing and protecting this right. On the other hand, I’m trying to imagine telling a supervisor or accounts department that you need this money reimbursed (along with asking for the time off). Even assuming that the management in question shares corporate’s belief in a woman’s right to choose, it’s awkward and oversharing and something painfully personal to reveal to coworkers. And what if they don’t share it? What if the local manager/authority figure is staunchly anti-choice? It all just got so much worse.

Is there a way that this can be navigated by employees without them having to wander through a landmine in an already overwhelming time? Or is this an example of something that makes a company look good, but that’s likely to never be taken advantage of by employees for a dizzying range of reasons? I really want to stand up and cheer, and I do admire them for taking a stand publicly, but is this a stunt that they’re assuming they’ll rarely have to pay out on?

I think less than being a stunt that they figure they’ll never have to pay out on, it reflects a lack of understanding from overwhelmingly male and privileged corporate decision-makers about real people’s lives.

As you point out, how many employees are going to feel comfortable telling their employer that they or their partner need an abortion? People want and deserve privacy in medical care, particularly around something as personal as abortion.

Moreover, flying out of state for an abortion isn’t always realistic, even with the costs covered. Some abortions are emergency care, like with an ectopic pregnancy that can quickly turn deadly without immediate treatment.

And it’s not clear how employers will reconcile these policies with laws that criminalize helping someone receive an abortion across state lines.

Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.

{ 364 comments… read them below }

  1. Rolly*

    “I think less than being a stunt that they figure they’ll never have to pay out on, it reflects a lack of understanding from overwhelmingly male and privileged corporate decision-makers about real people’s lives.”


    1. quill*

      Yeah. It makes me think that the people making these announcements don’t understand how common it is to need an abortion and how scheduling time off to have one 2+ weeks in advance isn’t in the cards. Also that they’ve never had their employment be negatively impacted by their health or their family planning.

    2. Ouch :(*

      This may be incorrect. Immediately following Roe v Wade overturned, my company sent out an email to all employees saying that if you needed healthcare that you could not get in your area then travel to where you could get it was covered. Any healthcare. Abortions, cancer treatments, whatever you need.

      1. Rachel*

        yes – my company is the same – it was phrased as any healthcare at all, travel costs to be reimbursed via our benefits programme. Therefore, confidential and not seen by one’s boss. It was in fact so oblique, at least 3 male coworkers entirely missed the point of it. I understand the concerns but I do think this mitigates it a certain extent.

        1. Ouch :(*

          Our goes through benefits too so that no one at the actual company is privy to personal information.

      2. Miss Muffet*

        Ours too – any healthcare that you need to obtain out of state for whatever reason. Although I’m still curious how it actually works in practice. And still mad that that’s a thing we have to just hope our employers are willing to do. God help the self-employed or people who work for places like Hobby Lobby. Yet another reason to detach employment from our medical care. Sigh.

      3. Fikly*

        That’s missing the point entirely, when many, many insurance policies in the US will not cover care outside of the state you live in when there is, in theory, a provider in the state you live in who will provide it. So the cost of the care, outside of travel, would remain entirely on the employee, unless you’re talking about abortion specifically, which is going to be on the employee to begin with. At which point, everyone knows what this is being used to pay for travel for.

        1. Mom of 2 instead of 3*

          Some health insurance covers termination.

          Mine was “covered” when I had to terminate. Except that due to gestational age (not viability, the fetus was not viable, which I sadly found out very very late, after the baby had a name, and a crib…) it was illegal to terminate in my state. I had to pay out of pocket.

          My insurance covered termination, and if I had terminated in-state, it would have been 100% covered. The only doctor available to me was out of network, so it was covered at about 10% instead.

          I went back to work 3 days after essentially giving birth. My termination was the only of my 3 pregnancies that was a vaginal delivery; essentially a stillbirth, after they stopped the fetus’s heartbeat 3 days earlier.

          I was super lucky that my boss let me have a week of half-sick/half-vacation time with no questions asked on a moment’s notice, but I didn’t want to file the FMLA paperwork with the company, because I didn’t want “…. Abortion Clinic” in my HR file. So I got no post-partum time off to heal, or time off to grieve my loss.

          And I really don’t know how desperate I would have had to be to ask for money to travel (and it was expensive to travel, and an extremely expensive procedure due to the late gestation). Which is why I think illegal abortions are going to be a lot more likely for those who can’t afford to travel. I had an abortion that a bevy of doctors strongly supported and I still kept it secret from many many people due to judgement.

          1. stolen_flame*

            I’m sorry for your loss, and that getting the medical care you needed was more difficult than necessary.

        2. goducks*

          Also, insurance companies will only pay for travel to obtain care if it’s care that they even cover. Many insurance plans do not cover abortion. Also, they have to deem the care necessary and important.

          So, in order for insurance to cover this it needs to be unavailable in the place where the employee lives AND something that the insurance would otherwise cover AND it needs to be something that’s a pretty big deal.

          I’ve known somebody who used such a benefit to get a certain treatment for a rare type of cancer, and the hoops they needed to jump through were huge and took a long time.

      4. lyonite*

        We just got an email about it today, which explained the coverage was being handled by an outside company and information wouldn’t be shared with our employer. Which obviously doesn’t solve all the problems, but at least it removes the need to apply for reimbursement. (For context, my employer is based in California, but has remote employees all over the country, so it’s not a matter of not wanting to relocate the company.)

      5. GlutenFreePharmacist*

        Chiming in as a healthcare professional who has been part of discussions to implement these types of benefits (ones you’ve seen in the news). I work for a health plan and it’s all through our benefit. No need to tell your supervisor/employer information other than “I have a medical procedure that needs to be taken care of.” Is it a perfect solution? Absolutely not, but it’s something. Another note on the broad medical coverage: many states have mental health parity statutes in place that require you to offer the same benefits and coverage for mental health/substance use disorder as other conditions. So any travel/lodging benefit would need to be equally applied to abortion as it would seeking mental health care out of area. So just because someone uses this benefit, it’s not always going to be for abortion. You could be using it for cancer or transplant or some other non-stigmatized/less controversial medical care.

        1. Rain's Small Hands*

          We live close enough to Mayo to have hosted friends and relatives looking for treatment at Mayo who are from out of state. I don’t think “I need out of state health care” is that uncommon. I think it takes a lot to get a referral to Mayo or Johns Hopkins – and a lot of time people are disappointed that the doctors there don’t work any miracles that other places can’t – but obviously people are coming in from all over the country to see Mayo doctors.

          Oh, and close to the original Hazelden location as well, so yeah….it isn’t just abortion and cancer people travel for.

          1. Antilla the Hon*

            I’ve been to Mayo twice from out of state. For people who live in vastly rural states where quality care can be a luxury (like where I live), Mayo can be a lifesaving alternative. In my state, doctors were wanting to be unnecessarily aggressive and “painting with a broad brush” for a condition which required surgery. Mayo took a much more nuanced organ-sparing approach that resulted in me having a significantly better long term quality of life. In the second instance, the doctors in my home state misdiagnosed me with an autoimmune condition during the COVID pandemic and recommended that i take immunosuppressants in the midst of a pandemic. Um, no thanks. I went to Mayo and they sound I didnt have X condition, but Y condition which should not be treated with immunosuppressive therapies. In both instances Mayo saved my health and improved the quality of my life.

    3. RB Purchase*

      Amen. A lot of this corporate policy reads as rich CEOs in big liberal cities who aren’t considering the conversations that their lower level staff in red states would be forced to have with supervisors who might not be happy with this new policy.

      Sure, my employer company might be willing to pay for my travel, but would I risk completely ruining a friendly surface-level work relationship with potentially anti-choice coworkers? No. effing. way.

      1. Hats Are Great*

        My employer has a senior HR team that can set up the whole thing if it is difficult for you to get away from work or to talk with local HR. They will tell your supervisor that they’d like to have you at a training in another state for 4 days. You schedule the procedure, you fly there, you stay in a hotel on the company’s dime, and you do some online training classes from your hotel room. Maybe if it seems like a good idea, you meet with a couple of people in person on the last day.

        1. IrishMN*

          An interesting approach, that sounds good in theory, but it won’t take long for people – especially rabidly anti-choice people – to figure out what’s going on. And the employee really has no recourse if they suddenly start being treated badly by boss or coworkers, who can claim they didn’t even know and that they aren’t treating the person any differently.

          1. Lapis Lazuli*

            If the employer is covered by FMLA, they may have recourse to use the non-worked time as FMLA leave since it would be a condition related to pregnancy. FMLA has privacy and non-interference/retaliation clauses which makes it illegal for employers to retaliate or interfere with an employee’s legitimate use of FMLA. FMLA also carries personal liability for other employees who attempt to interfere or retaliate against an employee for their FMLA usage. A supervisor who retaliates against an employee for taking FMLA can face litigation for their actions on top of litigation against the employer at large.

            There are similar clauses within the ADA, which isn’t necessarily a leave-based law but can provide accommodations that include leave where there is no other option (i.e., an employer not covered by FMLA who is covered under ADA). There are also pregnancy discrimination and overall discrimination laws (federal and state-level) where an employee could file EEOC charges against an employer for adverse employment action due to their disability (or perceived disability). None of this is perfect or keeps it from happening, but there is some recourse at the employer, state, and federal level. There’s also judicial recourse. Unfortunately, this all means employees need to diligently document everything.

        2. goducks*

          I get that this is well-intentioned, but have they vetted all the local HR to ensure that they’re not going to put up roadblocks? Will they vet all new HR hires to make sure that they’re going to make this work, smoothly and confidentially? And in what company does HR suddenly determine that an employee needs to be sent to a multi-day training that the manager knows nothing about? This is going to be obvious to everyone what’s happening.

          1. IrishMN*

            Good point about existing and new employees. Can you imagine the freak-out that would happen if employers started asking about people’s abortion views, or even saying, “we have this program, will you be able to abide by corporate policy and make sure that these cases are handled properly?” Holy moly.

            1. goducks*

              Frankly, anti-choice people might very well answer “yes” to that question, just to stop abortions. If they get hired they can throw up all sorts of little roadblocks that stop these trips from happening. If they’re honest, they’ll not be hired and someone will facilitate these trips. This is how anti-choice people operate. This is the stuff of crisis pregnancy centers that pretend to be abortion clinics (often even in the same building) meant to mislead and delay until the woman either decides not to have an abortion or it’s too late.

              And truly, there’s a large group of people who are theoretically ok with the right to choose who have all sorts of opinions over whether >this particular woman< should be getting an abortion, and would let that judgement color the way they act. They might delay/block, or they might just gossip.

    4. redflagday701*

      I personally think it’s important to call them “overwhelmingly male and privileged corporate decision-makers finessing some positive PR out of their wish to avoid upsetting the authoritarian politicians they count on for tax breaks.”

      1. redflagday701*

        I mean, not just tax breaks, but at the end of the day, Republicans will have to outright murder a lot of people — valued customers, specifically — before a lot of businesses take any kind of serious stance against them.

        1. WhiskyTangoFoxtrot*

          I mean, they’ve already shown they’re happy to kill women by withholding life-saving abortions, so it’s past time for businesses to take a stand.

      2. The pragmatist*

        I humbly suggest that while people can disagree in good faith over the merits of tax breaks, supporting tax breaks is a legitimate, mainstream position, even for pro choice people.

        1. redflagday701*

          Supporting tax breaks is fine. Effectively giving authoritarianism a pass because you don’t want to sacrifice your tax breaks…isn’t? Especially when, as you note, the other side would be perfectly happy to keep giving you the tax breaks.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          It’s mainstream, but it’s not legitimate.

          I’ve worked in government one way or another for 48 years and I’ve yet to see a company that gets tax breaks “to provide jobs” return enough tax income from new employees to the jurisdiction to offset the loss of the tax income that the company should have paid. OK, maybe, just maybe, one. Especially in states like mine where there’s no state income tax, so the burden of keeping the local government operating falls on the local landowners while the company pays zero property tax.

  2. Amber T*

    It may have been a letter here but I do remember reading a response from a potential new hire that ultimately turned down a job that was headquartered in Texas, citing the abortion laws (as well as other discrimatory laws against LGBTQIA+ community, minorities, etc.). I think coupled with the way the job market the way it is, this could really impact employers based in certain states and hopefully give them pause and make them rethink their headquarters.

    (I don’t doubt, unfortunately, that the opposite will be true as well.)

    1. Sentient Wheatgrass*

      The problem with that is then folks living in those states will have even less options for reasonably progressive workplaces. I realize that pulling out creates political pressure, but their employees can’t all just move as well…

      1. starfox*

        Yeah… I might be misunderstanding this comment of Allison’s:

        “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

        But those of us who live in those states needs jobs, too! If my employer moved out-of-state, I wouldn’t be able to move with them.

        1. Lydia*

          The point is, though, that money talks and if enough large employers push back or threaten to leave and are serious about it, then legislators will pay attention. Because constituents losing jobs frequently means a representative loses theirs.

        1. Pricilla Queen of the Office*

          Came here to comment this as well. What happens to the already marginalized people who get left behind? Boycotting a location only work if the government’s will, or the electorate’s will, changes as a result, but our current system drives those left behind into the arms of the oppressors.

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        It’s tricky. On the one hand, large companies can be lifelines for employees who cannot leave the state, and left-leaning voters leaving a state hastens the swing to the right. On the other hand, investing in a state can be seen as tacit approval of their laws.

        And when my employer expanded operations in [Red State] years ago, they moved a number of employees in from [Blue State] to get things set up. Surely they’re owed some assistance moving back home, if they want it? But now they’ve been there for X years, they have families, etc, so it’s a bigger deal leaving than it was to move there in the first place. There aren’t going to be any easy answers.

    2. Princess Xena*

      There was definitely a letter here a few weeks back from someone whose company was moving to Texas and was offering something like this – I don’t remember if we got an update though.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        No update as of right now. The letter was the second one on the “I’m on a “positivity” committee, job applicants whose voicemail doesn’t work, and more” short answer post from May 4, 2022.

    3. Dino*

      My company moved headquarters about 18 months ago from California to Texas. There was a mass exodus of people who didn’t want to live in Texas for all of those reasons and our HR has been in shambles since.

      It’s definitely limited my future with the company, as I definitely would not try for promotion or another position requiring me to work at HQ. It also means that my health insurance coverage is based on Texas so I cannot have insurance pay for an abortion “unless medically necessary” despite living in a state that protects abortion access. Dumb move on my company’s part.

  3. Rolly*

    “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

    And this. Or realize that they might need to not support politicians who are trying to remove that autonomy.

    1. MB*

      An (admittedly male) pro-choice person in a state that just had a 6 week ban go into effect: it’s not realistic to advocate for employers to completely leave anti-choice states, and it leaves the women in those states to fend for themselves with even less resources than before.

      Advocacy and actual political action by corporations to put their money where their mouths are is the only actual solution.

      1. Clobberin' Time*

        Okay, but let’s be really realistic: Companies don’t want to leave those states because those are the same states that skew toward “business friendly” (read: anti-worker, anti-union, anti-regulation, low corporate tax) environments. And they don’t want to put their money where their mouths are because the anti-choice politicians are the same ones voting for those business’ financial interests. What’s a few dead women compared to getting a 20-year tax holiday for that new facility?

        1. RadManCF*

          Also, in certain industries that are very tightly regulated ( I’m thinking railroads, utilities, and airlines just off the top of my head) they can’t just stop operating; the need permission from various regulators. I don’t think it’s terribly realistic that the STB would allow a railroad to abandon a profitable high traffic line.

        2. The pragmatist*

          Okay, but let’s be really realistic: Companies don’t want to leave those states because those are the same states that skew toward “business friendly”

          Shockingly, businesses make trade-offs when deciding where to locate.

          1. Clobberin' Time*

            I’m not sure that I’d use “trade-off” to describe the process of politicians fighting to make their state offering the most concessions to lure a business to relocate there, all in the name of touting Job Creation.

        3. RadManCF*

          I’d also imagine that some business have customer bases that for structural reasons are mostly in read states (oil and mining for example), and that they can’t serve remotely.

      2. Student*

        Given how this will tighten an already-historically-tight labor environment, some companies won’t have much choice about leaving forced-birth states. The $$$ considerations will push them out of these states, over time.

        Pregnancy impacts labor-force participation in a pretty significant way. This is going to reduce labor-force availability by a nontrivial amount – companies are going to have to compete much harder for the workers left available. As their labor costs go up, large companies will need to consider moving to merely keep hiring flat, let alone to try to expand their business.

        Forced-birth is a major, life-altering kind of law to live under, and women are going to treat it as such when considering their job options. Companies aren’t going to be able to counteract that law and its resultant drop in labor force participation by attracting out-of-state talent with normal incentives, like good benefits or mild salary increases. And while states with forced-birth laws have a majority of the population that, apparently, support such measures, it’s good to keep in mind that the people in these states aren’t monolithic. Some people will move out of these states to places where they have greater freedom if they’re able to do so; not many will move in to replace them.

        1. Danniella Bee*

          This is an interesting statement, “some people will move out of these states to places where they have greater freedom if they’re able to do so; not many will move in to replace them.”

          We are seeing mass relocations in the past two years from blue states to red states. People are moving regarding values more than we have seen in the past 100 years. The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North started back in 1910 and is the most comparable demographic shift to our present day.

          Since 2020, people are leaving California and New York for Texas, Idaho, and Florida in droves because they want to live in a red state. It will be interesting if the same thing happens now where people leave red states for blue states because of abortion laws.

          The main issue is blue states tend to have a higher cost of living. We shall see if enough jobs and or remote work facilitates the greater cultural shift.

          I live in Washington, a solidly blue state, and I can’t see ever moving to a red state. It is far too risky for my health, welfare, and general happiness.

          1. Mid*

            Not disagreeing, but do you have any sources for the claim that people are moving to red states for political reasons? I know many people who have relocated to lower COL places, but not usually because they liked the other policies in place in those states, but rather because they literally can’t afford to stay where they are. But I also know that my social group skews very heavily to one side of the political spectrum.

            1. starfox*

              Yeah, I’m wondering this…. It’s anecdotal, but I know people who moved to my red state from California, and it was because the cost-of-living is so much lower here…. It had nothing to do with wanting to live in a red state. I would suspect that most people making this move are doing it for financial reasons, not political ones.

              That’s also why it’s unfeasible for a lot of us to just move to blue states, even if we might want to. My salary is comfortable for where I live, but it’s nothing in a place like New York or California. Even if I could find a decent-paying job in one of those states, I don’t know if I could afford the move. My savings are great… for where I live. If I had to rely on them to move and to live off of for a few weeks until a new salary kicked in, it would set me back by a lot.

              1. Lightning*

                This is tangential to your point, and I don’t want to derail too much, but not all of New York is expensive. I’m in one of the mid-sized upstate NY cities and it’s the lowest CoL place I’ve ever lived.

              2. Rain's Small Hands*

                And often nicer weather. As well as an aging population. I mean, Massachusetts tends to be pretty blue – but the weather is hellish and it isn’t a great state for retirement.

                That migration is one of the reasons cited that some former pretty red states (Georgia, North Carolina) are getting bluer. Retired liberals moving to purple states for better weather and lower cost of living – along with an increasingly activist BIPOC contingent.

                I’m in Minnesota and we are looking to moving to a purple state with warmer weather in the next couple of years – at least for the coldest months. While we aren’t thrilled about living deep in the most reactionary conservative parts of the country – we can do fine even in somewhere like Austin, Texas – and eventually vote there. (We won’t move to Texas, but Virginia and North Carolina are on the table as purple states).

            2. gmg22*

              Wondering this too. I live in an extremely blue state in the Northeast where a fairly tidy political divide can be observed between natives (much more likely to be conservatives) and transplants (mostly liberals). A lot of baby-boomer natives here tend to want to move south. Often they will say it’s because of the politics, but specifically it’s because of two things, one that’s kind of but not entirely political (lower taxes/cost of living) and the other that’s not at all (warmer weather).

            3. Blue Moon*

              We moved from a blue state to a red state a few years ago because 1) cost of living was lower and 2) our families still lived in the red state. We had just had kids and both money and family were bigger considerations for places to live.

              Now with inflation and the change of laws, we are going to be moving back to the blue state we originally moved from as soon as it’s financially and logistically possible.

            4. So long and thanks for all the fish*

              Yeah, I don’t think that’s right either. My sister was in CO and had a lot of people relocating there from CA. It’s not about politics.

          2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            I’m not sure it’s always accurate to say they moved because “they want to live in a red state”. Some definitely do! But some moved primarily for the lower cost of living – in particular housing – while not actually wanting a red state per se and possibly even very much disagreeing with the politics. I know a few people who did this and are struggling now (or have even moved back) because they didn’t realize how much they’d actually dislike living there, due to politics / jobs / amenities etc. They thought being able to get a house and a yard would make up for it and now feel marooned.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              There was a push years ago for Libertarians to move to New Hampshire … I knew a couple of people (retired at the time and now no longer with us) who did so.

              While there was some talk about pushing the state more Libertarian by bringing a voting block in state, I swear at least half the reason was people in that “party” wanted “Live Free or Die” on their license plates.

          3. Clobberin' Time*

            We are seeing mass relocations in the past two years from blue states to red states

            This is false. People are leaving high cost of living areas; they are not moving to “red states” in “droves”. Urban areas, period, have high costs of living, and that includes large cities in “red” states.

            And comparing it to the Great Migration? The movement through which Black Americans left states where they were victims of state-supported white terrorism in search of some measure of economic opportunity and freedom that they were prohibited, in law and in fact, from obtaining in the southern states where they live? Really, that’s how you think of retirees selling their California house and retiring to Idaho? FFS.

          4. Doreen*

            I know people who moved from NYC to a red state because it was so much less expensive that they could buy a house there and retire on the money left over from selling their NYC house. Didn’t last four years before leaving – they didn’t move because they wanted to live in a red state and it bothered them more than they thought it would.

      3. Danniella Bee*

        I agree with you. It is not practical or realistic that all businesses can leave a red state. There are companies that can do that but not all.

        1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

          I work in a building that is specially designed for what we do. We can’t move down the street to a larger building, let alone to a blue state. We’re also a very small business, so this isn’t the sort of large corporation that is offering travel for abortion options- but I’m curious if other small businesses are making these accommodations/offers and if so, how they’re handling it. Most of us in the building know if a coworker is sick and/or what that illness is, just from word of mouth, so layers of HR and/or medical insurance between management and the employee isn’t possible.

      4. T*

        Exactly. There are many reasons people can’t “just leave” a forced-birth state. At best, that’s kind of a cruel thing to tell people at risk in those states. People in those states shouldn’t just be abandoned.
        I do wonder the same thing that OP does: how are businesses actually going to handle this? They should set up some kind of anonymous/private way for people to get the help they need, because anonymity/privacy will be key for so many reasons. But businesses do need to put some action to their words.

      5. Jessica Fletcher*

        No, it is realistic. Politicians respond to money and prestige. They want to create jobs and get photo ops with wealthy business owners. If the respected companies start leaving because the state is unfriendly to business interests, that drives change. The same way undeserved tax breaks are used to lure companies to states, companies can signal this is something they want in order to do business there.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      Unfortunately they will probably gain more financially from continuing to support anti-choice politicians who tend to be more willing to give corporate handouts/tax benefits than by not supporting them.

      1. The pragmatist*

        It’s almost as if…pro-choice politicians could take some occasional pro-business positions to expand their electoral coalition?

        1. Jora Malli*

          The problem is that “pro-business” in politics tends to be code for “union busting and reduced protections for workers.” Politicians who are pro choice also tend to be in favor of laws that protect workers from exploitation, which puts them at odds with a lot of corporations.

        2. quill*

          It’s almost as if the overton window being pushed towards fascism has meant that no matter how pro-business a left wing politician is, businesses get more money out of the people who want to destroy workers’ and customers’ rights along with every other category of human rights.

        3. Siege*

          It’s almost as though most positions considered to be “pro business” are anti-worker? Or do you think there are a lot of pro business positions that involve compensating people fairly and well and giving them work that is not immediately fatal in most circumstances? I’ve never seen one in my life.

          1. quill*

            Long term, environmental protection CAN profit businesses, but it doesn’t show results this quarter so businesses never see it as beneficial when making their plans.

            Same with health and safety, actually having reliable public transportation paid for in part by corporate taxes, the idea that health care should not be tied to employment…

          2. The pragmatist*

            I’m not going to respond point-by-point, because this site discourages political discussions.

            But I will make one observation: Americans are abandoning states like California for places like Texas. It is not just corporate leadership, but everyday people. This suggests they do not, at least in part, share your view that “pro-business” is anti-worker.

            1. Generic Elf*

              I know someone who is leaving California for a red (well, now purple) state, but because they want to buy a house. California is a victim of it’s own success, whereas Texas can’t even run a power grid.

    3. JSPA*

      Corporations don’t turn on a dime (unless they’re doing it wrong, i.e. with even less concern for employee’s lives, than staying in states with bans).

      IMO, what makes most sense is

      a) allow telework, where possible, from states that offer rights to open offices, for jobs that can be done remotely.

      b) open branches (or start with virtual offices, if that’s legally-tenable???) in states with better access, and commit to keeping them there for X number of years, providing abortion access remains.

      c) for (e.g.) precision or heavy manufacturing (or other facilities that require long-range planning to set up) start the search process, while also engaging very determinedly with politicians (on every level) and civic groups in the states you’re in now, so they know the timeline for loss of those jobs, loss of your corporate sponsorship, loss of your individual and PAC donations to their campaigns.

      Remember, however, as you do this, that one of the unspoken goals of social engineering on this scale is to change demographics and voting patterns. Hewing to the “no partisan politics” policy here, let’s just say that it should be self-evident that if “most people who support side 1 of topic X consider moving to a different state, elections become much easier for whichever group supports side 2 of topic X, for any highly motivating topic X.

      If your state (and your county, and your city) are all “deep color” of the same political color, this may not be an issue in your area. But in most states that are “deep [one color],” there exist pockets of “deep [another color]” (and this is again a universal statement, not dog whistle or code).

      1. WomEngineer*

        Unfortunately, a and b hurts women in those anti-abortion states… which is all the more reason to advocate for c.

    4. thisgirlhere*

      The problem with this idea is that taking your business out of state means firing all of your workers who live there (many of whom won’t or can’t move for any number of reasons). My main employer was one of the big ones who made this announcement, but we don’t have any physical offices in these states, just a lot of remote employees. I suppose we could require them to move or quit, but that seems to harm the very people they’re trying to help.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      From a tactical standpoint, I agree with the spirit and potential efficacy of such actions. As someone who lives in a red state, my gut reaction is, “My gawd — I have no access to abortion AND I lose my job?!” I already feel like I can’t afford to relocate to a blue state nor afford the cost of living there if I did. I’ve been thinking about it.

      1. Student*

        I’ve relocated across state lines 3 times in my life so far, all of them fairly long distances, including cross-country.

        A lot of the expense of moving is tied in up in possessions. I don’t know what your specific situation is, but if you’re willing to downsize your possessions, that cuts moving costs tremendously. Stuff is great – I’m no minimalist – but I find I can keep the expensive things and ditch an awful lot of other stuff each time I move, replacing the things I find I actually miss over time. Doesn’t work for everyone, I know, but… I gotta say, if I was living in a red state right now, I’d be job searching, having a garage sale to downsize, and preparing to move no matter what I had to leave behind, because forced birth absolutely terrifies me.

        Cost-of-living isn’t flat across blue states, either; there’s a huge amount of variance as long as you aren’t absolutely determined to live in the center of a major city. I’ve lived in very low CoL areas of blue states and in very high ones. Check out the smaller cities that don’t get on tourist brochures, instead of the big-name vacation destination cities. Look for housing towards the outer end of the local commuter rail or bus lines if you do want to be near a major city – that’ll give you reasonable access to downtown jobs, but housing at suburb rates.

        1. Mid*

          This feels unrealistic, unhelpful, and a little unkind.

          Moving is a huge cost and is complicated. If you have a spouse, children, or pets, you can’t just pack up everything in your car and replace everything as you go. Even I, as a single person moving across my own city, ended up spending a few thousand dollars on my last move, between the cost of a new rental, starting utilities, and buying new (all secondhand and as cheap as possible) furniture. I had to take time off of work, spend money on gas, etc. I slept on an air mattress for three months until I could afford a mattress.

          People need doctors, pharmacies, schools, jobs, etc. Even if you aren’t “absolutely determined to live in the center of a major city” and are checking out “the smaller cities that don’t get on the tourist brochures.” Maybe just take Mallory at their word that moving isn’t a reasonable option for them.

        2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          There are several factors into why people cannot move, not all of them are monetary.

        3. Heather*

          I mean, good for you, but my plan would just be to temporarily travel out of state for the abortion. (Bonus: a lot cheaper than moving!) I don’t need to upend my entire life just to do that.

      2. JSPA*

        I didn’t say they should pull the plug on the existing locations; certainly not in the near-term, and (frankly) at least in part as a bargaining chip that they hope not to need to use, in the longer term.

        It’s an “allow” vs a “require.” People can have conditions that predispose them to ectopic pregnancies, for example. If I were in that boat, the news that I had the OPTION to move at a moment’s notice, while retaining my job remotely, would be great.

    6. Sylvan*

      Mm, hard disagree on the first part, although I agree about not supporting anti-choice politicians.

      Please stay and provide support where it’s needed.

      1. Jora Malli*

        Yes, as a person in a red state who has the potential to become pregnant, I’d rather have big corporations stay and fight with us. Stop giving money to politicians who vote yes on abortion bans and spend that money on efforts to get better people elected into those offices.

        If a company is willing to make a public statement about flying staff out of state to receive medical care, I want them to also start making statements about how we can turn our states into places where that won’t be necessary anymore.

  4. CH*

    Corporations in states with restrictive abortion laws need to use their influence as job providers and money to support pro-choice legislation and candidates. Some of the same companies that are offering to cover travel expenses for abortions are the very companies that have funded the political campaigns of the lawmakers now taking away that right.

    1. quill*

      This, although businesses will vote for whoever regulates them least and then either be shocked (because it wasn’t on the corporate radar that the party of anti-tax, anti-regulation is also the party of fascism ) or “shocked” (because never thought leopards would eat my face, yadda yaddda) when a party of totalitarianism does totalitarian things.

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I completely agree. Use your power as a company for good. The overturning of Roe v Wade is already polarizing it. Red states forcing out all pro-choice people and companies is only going to make the nation more polarized.

  5. Jess*

    A friend said her employer said they would cover travel expenses and cost of a procedure that is not offered within 50 miles of their home “in light of the recent supreme court decision.” I saw this as rife with loopholes–for instance, if someone with a transgender child lives in a state that is denying gender confirming care, they could use this as a way to get it–and increasingly, trans adults who are denied care could do this as well.

    I agree with Allison that companies should pull their businesses from states who are rolling back body autonomy, and also see this as a uniquely U.S. stopgap.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think those loopholes are great, if people are actually going to take advantage of them. I agree with LW about that being unlikely though.

      1. Jess*

        If the company only thought of it in terms of the reversal of Roe v Wade but left the language open to interpretation it is a loophole.

        1. JSPA*

          depending on your point of view, it’s a loophole to be closed, or a life-saving escape hatch to be used. And…I’d bet that there are people who crafted the wording with full intent of creating that escape hatch, whether or not the entire leadership and board fully discussed the issue.

          And frankly, if your region is so bare of services (or your state is so benighted) that you can’t get (e.g.) necessary dental work or your tubes tied (or any other legitimate medical procedure) then this, should also apply to that.

          1. Jess*

            Given that it’s a giant for-profit company, if they see that their costs are ballooning because of those services they will probably close that loophole. Things they cannot forecast is how many people will take advantage of this, increasing travel costs, and accommodations that they also said they would pay for.

            1. JSPA*

              medical needs transcend any particular social status. And, frankly, they’re not going to be faced with 20% of their worforce needing bottom surgery. Given the already high costs of health care, I just don’t see this as the bank-breaking problem you foresee.

              1. Jess*

                I think you’re giving a big corporation in the US too much credit. When they need to cut costs this will likely be one of the first things to go or be significantly scaled back.

    2. itsame*

      My office has a policy like this which is explicitly set up so that people can access either trans affirming care for them and their family, or abortion services. I share the view that many companies, specifically the ones who donate to politicians who are supporting horrific laws like this, or those who prioritize being in a low-tax state over protecting their workers rights, are almost certainly doing this for publicity over actual care. But I do think there are also organizations who can’t reasonably up and leave states – whether because they are a national organization with presence in every state or a local company who shouldn’t be forced to relocate just to access fundamental human rights -where this kind of stipend is an imperfect but important step.

    3. Ari*

      I think that’s a feature, not a bug? My company sent out an email reminding employees that our policy pays for travel to access medical care that isn’t available in our home locations – nothing specifically about abortion was mentioned and I think it is right that such a policy applies to any medical condition needing treatment including pregnancy termination, trans health care, etc. If you live in a rural area you might need to cross state lines to see a cancer specialist, for example, and that travel would be covered.

    4. Someone in BioPharma*

      I work for a company that uses the same wording. I don’t think that it’s a loophole, I think that this is the intent, to support women who need an abortion, but also trans people who need care and, when it’s outlawed in red states, women who want IVF.

      1. Software Engineer*

        It will also be used for birth control when that’s outlawed in red states as well. There’s going to be medical tourism to blue states for getting long-term birth control implants.

      2. Nicki Name*

        Same here. My company also uses the wording about “any medical procedure” and it seemed very clear to me when it was announced that it was intended for a lot more than abortion.

      1. Jess*

        I guess, I usually think of loopholes as just “ways to interpret beyond the original meaning” and with the supreme court reference it seems that they are looking at abortion, and the meaning can be interpreted beyond that.

        1. Jora Malli*

          Part of the supreme court’s ruling on abortion includes Clarence Thomas’s statement about future rollbacks to LGBTQ+ protections.

          If the people who wrote that policy were smart, they weren’t just thinking of abortion rights that are being removed now, they were also thinking of contraception rights and LGBTQ+ rights that are likely to be removed in the future.

    5. J*

      Based on a CLE I attended yesterday, it might be a strategy to avoid lawsuits. Benefits often need to comply with ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, ACA, and the Mental Health Parity requirements. If you discriminate by gender on what procedures you cover, you could be at risk. If you limit to abortion, you’re more likely to be sued by people looking for a political lawsuit. So a very general travel policy with loopholes gives the employer plausible deniability. They actually recommended this but there was risk associated still.

      1. Jess*

        That was my guess–my friend was annoyed they didn’t actually say the word ‘abortion’ and I assumed it was for legal purposes

      2. ThatGirl*

        While I’m not opposed to this, I would like to point out that men and nonbinary people can get pregnant and need abortions too.

        1. Jess*

          Yep, and there is a lot of anti-trans sentiment in certain states that would come into play if someone decided to take action against a company for providing benefits for those with a uterus vs those without. By not having any language around abortion specifically, the company can legally avoid that potential discrimination suit.

    6. not a doctor*

      Yeah, IDK. My company is covering travel expenses for any procedure that requires 100+ miles of travel. I think that’s a good thing! There are plenty of other reasons someone might have to travel for medical care, so why not cover all of them in one fell swoop?

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        This. In some areas, travel of > 100 miles would be necessary for subspecialist care or to participate in a clinical trial. Keep it general and you help more people while reducing the potential stigma for people who need to access these benefits.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ll moderate aggressively if it becomes needed. I’m not going to host comments here that support removing women’s rights to bodily autonomy.

      1. Jackalope*

        I truly appreciate your work and willingness to make this a safe discussion. Thank you.

  6. Justin*

    Well. I agree (about removing their business) in theory, but what of a company that exists to serve marginalized communities across many states? They’re kind of stuck. That said that’s only a small number of companies.

    I’m leaving this comment section though.

    1. Generic Elf*

      Well, business that can do something like that, ought to if they can. Obviously that shouldn’t mean an under-served population gets the short end of the stick.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Most of these announcements seem to be coming from big companies though, who run nationwide searches and are worried about their ability to attract mobile and highly skilled workers. And quite often they are there because of the low tax burden, and advocating for even lower taxes and regulation. I mean, it’s really is virtue-signalling— I bet it has a far greater effect on the generally-pro-choice-worried-about-how-this-looks than people who actually take seriously the possibility that they might need access to abortion.

      Those smaller organisations which serve local populations are less likely to be making those promises because they don’t have the spare cash for it, are probably already engaged in real advocacy work because they realise these decisions affect their service users as well as their staff, and most importantly are fully local— they’re there because that’s where their service users are and where their staff are from, not because the corporate tax rates give their share holders a better return.

  7. Absurda*

    I would love to see companies leaving states with strict laws like this, but how likely do we think that is? My company has a huge investment in infrastructure, operations and a campus in a state likely to pass anti-abortion laws (if they haven’t already). I just can’t see them pulling all that out and moving to a likely more expensive, more liberal state.

    1. Kali*

      Yes, I think this is less of a PR stunt for a performative sake and more a way to protect the existing investment and infrastructure the companies have in forced-birth states. “You have to live in Houston to work with us because it’ll cost millions to move the company, but don’t worry – we’ll pay the $2k for you to take a flight to another state for your essential healthcare.” It’s a cost-benefit analysis that ultimately ends with companies not wanting to move their business out of the forced-birth states.

  8. ENFP in Texas*

    Companies have reimbursed employees for travel for other medical procedures for several years. This isn’t as “new” as some people may think.

    1. ElizabethJane*

      Well, yes. But it’s one thing to ask your company to reimburse airline tickets for, say, cancer treatments which 99% of the population agrees should be accessible. I would have no problem saying “Hey boss can I use the company perks to buy my plane ticket to ABC city so I can save my life with this new cancer drug?” because the chances of my boss being like “Nah, I don’t believe in cancer or your right to survive it” are slim to none.

      On the other hand I’d be taking a real risk to walk up to my boss and say “Hey boss, I need to terminate my pregnancy. Can I use the company perks to buy my plane ticket to ABC city?”. There is a much-greater-than-0 chance that my boss could say “Actually I don’t believe in abortion and I think you are a murderer so even if I do approve this expense I’ll make the rest of your time working here literal hell”

      1. JSPA*

        Ideally, this would be written to allow you to notify your boss of HAVING HAD an emergency-level (i.e. pressing and non-planned) medical procedure, just as if you’d been in the emergency room unconscious after being hit by a bus.

        “This is Soo’s housemate, calling to tell you that she’s had an unforseen medical emergency. She’ll be out for a couple of days, but should make a full recovery.”

        That sort of thing. And some separate office set up to deal with medical absences, that doesn’t give any details to your direct chain of command.

        Emergency gall bladder, emergency appendectomy, there are all sorts of, “no chance to let you know before going under the knife” conditions.

      2. Sharon*

        For any medical need, there should be no need to inform your boss of any specific details at all, just the fact that you need time off for treatment. You say, “Hey boss, I’m having a medical procedure in 3 weeks and will need to take a week off .” Then you go have your surgery and follow the normal procedure to submit your expenses (including doctor and travel) to the health plan (not your boss) for payment or reimbursement. Your boss doesn’t need to know and shouldn’t ask whether you’re having a abortion, an inpatient stay for a mental health issue, plastic surgery, or cancer treatment.

    2. bookartist*

      Came here to say this. My company has had a travel policy for bariatric surgery which also includes a blanket provision for other therapies not locally offered. I understand that is for special treatments where there is maybe one clinic in the US that offers the therapy. They just added abortion services to that list.

    3. J*

      But the lawsuit risks are more pronounced. I attended a CLE that talked about Health Reimbursement Accounts as a way to supplement over some of the alternative options involving direct payment. The legal strategies around protecting employers have definitely changed.

    4. WellRed*

      My understanding is that some companies could reimburse this through a third party benefits manager or similar. Still a whole host of problems especially for the financiallly disadvantage I am sure there is lots of problems we’ll see crop up as far as actual workable policies. I’m in a state that treats women as actual humans but goddess help us all.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup. My company reiterated our health travel policy. Which includes gender affirmation procedures as well. I also know that my boss doesn’t have to know anything about my medical care, just if I plan to go on leave. Their announcement was not a stunt but a reiteration of our culture and values.

  9. Ariel O.*

    At my company this is something that is included in our healthcare coverage, so you would only need to discuss it with your healthcare provider. I’m sure not all companies are handling it this way, and this doesn’t respond to concerns re emergency healthcare that Alison mentioned, but this does protect employees where I work from having to disclose the need for an abortion to management.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It’s the travel compensation that would slip outside the normal HIPAA boundaries and into a less protected and confidential payment system.

      And doesn’t address whether compensating for travel would get the employer tangled up in the “we’ll prosecute anyone who helps the process, even in other states” approach that some of the legislation contains/could contain.

      The Supreme Court just decided that none of this is private.

      1. MedGal*

        Not if it is part of the medical plan. My employer doesn’t know the details of my medical claims. We are self funded but administered by a national health insurer.

          1. Sharon*

            Many health plans cover travel associated with seeking medical care. For example, you might have to fly to a specialist across the country and stay in that city for a few weeks to get a specific treatment or surgery. The companies saying they will pay for abortion travel probably already offer health plans that cover travel to seek care for other medical conditions.

            1. Ariel O.*

              Correct, this is how it works at my company and at many other companies offering this benefit. We offer coverage for travel costs for other medical conditions. It’s a major fintech with a mostly remote workforce.
              If anyone’s company offers reimbursement for abortion care but doesn’t administer the reimbursement benefit this way it’s worth bringing it up with HR if possible to see if it can be added to your healthcare coverage without impacting premiums.

          2. Wren*

            They are at my company (approx 80,000 employees across the US). My boss would only know that I needed some time off work.

          3. REH*

            Yes, my employer is the same – they added a rider to our health insurance for “travel for reproductive health services,” which includes abortion. All of the communications happens through our health insurance company; no information is shared with the employer about an employee accessing this service. They also said that you don’t your manager’s approval to take time off for this purpose and don’t need to tell them the reason for your time off. In our case taking our business out of certain states doesn’t apply – we’re based on a state where abortion is legal but have remote employees all over the country – so given the terrible situation in general, it seems like a pretty good solution.

  10. Mallorie*

    See, I have a completely different take on this based on what my company’s announcement was. My company will pay travel and lodging for ANY medical procedure you need that is more than 50 miles from your home. My company won’t have any idea that the procedure I need is an abortion or just something else – that will be handled through my medical insurance or any FLMA leave claim I need (which is also handled completely through a third party benefits company). So I don’t see this as performative at all – think of someone who needs a surgery at some fancy out of state hospital, or who needs to see a specialist across the country – this benefits them TOO – and the announcement said as much while also SPECIFICALLY mentioning abortion as being covered. So that is my 2 cents.

  11. Temperance*

    My org has made a statement that abortion care is available through our health plan, and that includes transportation. Our health plan won’t be informing our org who utilizes these, or any, services of any kind, so there is a wall of separation.

    This is especially key because we have an office in Texas.

    1. CowWhisperer*

      My only worry is for people facing a fast moving pregnancy complication that can kill or maim in hours.

      I gave birth to my son at 26 weeks after developing HELLP syndrome. When I was diagnosed, my dangerous level of liver inflammation plus terribly low platelet count meant the docs expected to deliver me by CS within 4 hours (sooner if I or my son crashed from a stroke, heart attack or placental abruption), give me multiple blood transfusions, and hope both of us survived.

      There’s no way I could have safely been transported to Illinois from southern Western Michigan. A life-flight or ambulance can mimic a high risk labor and delivery unit for surveillance and delivery of drugs – but neither could do a crash CS that needed a mass transfusions protocol. That’d been the only way to get the placenta out that was killing me out if there was no one who could perform a second trimester abortion if I needed one since I was showing no signs of labor.

      My kid survived with lung damage and CP because he was just extremely premature. If he had any congenital issues, he would have died and I would have had an abortion.

      I’ve been freaking out since Roe was overturned – and working at getting the right to an abortion on the ballot to be passed.

  12. General Organa*

    Hi folks, repro rights lawyer and advocate here. Just writing in to encourage anyone who is outraged about all of this to donate to your local abortion fund rather than any of the big advocacy orgs (and I say that even as an employee of one of the big advocacy orgs). Abortion funds are helping people more directly and will also have a harder time staying afloat. The Repro Legal Defense Fund is another good place to give (link in below comment); they cover bail and fund legal defense for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for self-managed abortion. And finally, there’s a lot of stigmatizing language going around even from people who are on the right side of this, so if you have the bandwidth please be mindful of how you’re speaking (another link below).

    1. Ariana*

      +1000 on supporting local abortion funds/agencies rather than big companies like Planned Parenthood.

      1. Ariana*

        …not saying PP is bad per se, but your donation will go further if you support local agencies.

        1. Sally*

          What about local PPs? A couple (or maybe more) years ago, I sent money to the South Texas Planned Parenthood because – well, now I can’t remember the specific thing that was happening, but the local area really needed help.

          1. socks*

            Yeah, I don’t object to the call to donate to local abortion funds, because they’re important, but I think we can encourage people to donate to abortion funds without DIScouraging them from donating to Planned Parenthood. I can’t speak for the national org, but regional PPs can pretty much always use more funding.

          2. BubbleTea*

            I’m massively not an expert, but I have read online that there are at least three different versions of Planned Parenthood, set up differently for legal reasons, and you need to check which one you’re giving to – they do different things. Donating to the political arm won’t be funding frontline-provision. But like I said, this is just from what I’ve read online.

    2. Whynot*

      Thank you for this comment, and for your advocacy.

      Here in TX, the Texas Equal Access Fund is a great org/abortion fund that’s been helping people access abortion for many years, and continues to do so despite this state’s draconian laws. You can donate here:

    3. Cheezmouser*

      If I wanted to support political organizations or campaigns aimed at overturning state abortion bans, where would be the best place(s) to direct my donations? Or how would I go about researching that?

  13. logicbutton*

    Sudden vision of one of those employee “team-building” oversharing sessions that people sometimes write in about where someone doesn’t want to share that the saddest day of their life was flying out of state to terminate a wanted pregnancy and their manager just tells everyone anyway.

  14. Ariana*

    Just a note: ectopic pregnancy care is technically not an abortion. It is not coded as such in terms of HCPCS codes, and an ectopic pregnancy cannot and will never be viable.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      There are interpretations of the new laws in many states that do classify ectopic pregnancies as abortions. It’s incorrect but including it in the discussion isn’t entirely out of left field.

      1. Calliope*

        The latest federal guidance on preemption should overrule that though. Ectopic pregnancies are an emergency.

        1. urguncle*

          Except “emergency” means in some states that there need to be multiple doctors weighing in and approving the emergency care, an impossibility for already understaffed clinics in underserved areas.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Not to mention doctors who can’t or won’t perform the procedure either because there will be less in the area over time who know how, or because they’re worried (rightly or wrongly) about legal ramifications.

            1. Calliope*

              Stating the law accurately on a consistent basis is one way to ensure that doctors are less worried though. I’ve seen a LOT of doctors being let off the hook on social media for not providing emergency care and they really shouldn’t be.

              1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                I agree. And honestly, they actually can get in real legal trouble with their licensing boards or in malpractice cases if they fail to act and let a woman become seriously ill or die for failing to take action, especially since it is protected in most laws to treat ectopic pregnancies in this way or to remove a dead fetus that is not coming out naturally. So it seems rather absurd that a doctor would fail to act because of this law when the consequences of acting would be significantly less dire than what he would face in a malpractice and wrongful death suit.

          2. Calliope*

            I’m not saying the system will work perfectly but I think it’s important to say what the law is because doctors can and should lose their license if they let a patient die because they were stalling about getting approval in an emergency. We should not be letting anyone off the hook for that including medical providers.

            1. Clobberin' Time*

              Doctors who outright kill patients through malpractice don’t lose their licenses. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.

              More charitably, part of the problem is that doctors are taught in medical school that if they make one good-faith mistake, they’ll immediately be sued and lose millions of dollars. This is insurance company garbage propaganda, but it infests the whole health care system – so you have doctors being ordered by their hospitals or clinics not to do certain procedures until Legal signs off on them. And the administrators and Legal are now weighing “what if this patient dies and we risk get sued” versus “what if the fascists who run this state charge us with felonies”. Guess which one they’re likely to pick.

              1. Calliope*

                Again, though, part of handling that is to make it very, very clear what their legal and moral responsibilities are. As I said, I’m not saying it’s not an issue that will arise. I’m saying the legal and moral of responsibilities of doctors are clear, full stop. I don’t care if they’re worried about law suits or not. But if the general discourse is “well it’s a confusing situation they could get in trouble” than it’s going to seem more reasonable for them to claim that after the fact and cause doctors to hesitate more in the moment.

                1. MisterForkbeard*

                  Isn’t part of the problem that the legal responsibilities of doctors aren’t clear, and very suddenly?

                  If a woman has a pregnancy that will threaten her life but hasn’t yet, some doctors have conflicting responsibilities: they have a legal responsibility to their patient for the best case before the pregnancy becomes actively dangerous, and the state is also mandating that they can’t perform an abortion because the mother’s life isn’t directly threatened yet. And that’s IF the law is applied in good faith, which it won’t be.

                  We know from other countries with bans that miscarriages are sometimes prosecuted. They’re already investigated here in some states. And doctors will find that every time they perform an abortion for any reason, they’re at risk of getting charged with something by the state.

                  I hate this timeline.

                2. Calliope*

                  Nope, the feds have clarified that federal law preempts in those situations. They have a legal obligation to render care, not withhold it, and the state law does not control.

                  Now, will SOME doctor SOMEWHERE
                  probably get embroiled in legal hassle over this? Yes, almost certainly. And there are lots of legal resources that will be marshaled to defend them. But any particular doctor needs to know that it’s overwhelmingly not likely to be them and that they need to continue to properly do their job despite that small risk.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  The idea that doctors would be weighing this decisions based on a general layperson’s understanding that they’ve got from casual reading of the internet rather than clear and authoritative guidance from their employer or professional bodies is nearly as terrifying as the rest of it.

        2. OyHiOh*

          Tell every Catholic-based healthcare system in the US this. Individual doctors probably regularly take matters into their own hands but the official public stance of these systems is to not interfere in an ectopic pregnancy unless/until no “heartbeat” is detected.

          1. NotQuite*

            That is actually completely incorrect. I say this as a pregnant woman who faced an ectopic pregnancy scare at my local Catholic hospital. With an ectopic pregnancy there is zero chance of the baby surviving and if left untreated both mother and baby would die. It is standard procedure throughout the Catholic Healthcare system here in my city to remove an ectopic pregnancy immediately to save the mother’s life and it is not viewed as an abortion since the baby had no chance of survival.

            1. MisterForkbeard*

              Our local hospital is Catholic as well, and we have friends who had the opposite experience – they were told to wait, or to go to another healthcare facility if they wanted immediate action.

              I suppose it’s not uniform across those hospitals. Which is also somewhat scary.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              OyHiOh probably shouldn’t have said “every Catholic-based healthcare system”, but they’re also not “completely incorrect”. There have been many many stories over the years about pregnant women being denied emergency care in Catholic-based hospitals. I’m glad your area has a better system, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned through all of this it’s that access is not equal everywhere.

              1. Anon all day*

                My parents specifically chose the hospital they did to have me because the one closer to them was/is a Catholic hospital, and they were concerned about these exact scenarios.

            3. Tasha*

              Yes but there are varieties of treatment. The catholic stance of “removing” impairs future fertility; the injection to dissolve the embryo doesn’t but catholics view that treatment as an abortion .

        3. quill*

          Won’t stop individual doctors / pharmacists / insurance people / law enforcement / bounty seeking neighbors / your elected representative of the week from arguing that it is, whether that’s long enough to cause medical complications, or after the fact dealing with courts and arrests.

          Much like when states were passing laws regarding trans people that everyone was confident wouldn’t stand up in court: the point is not to create a solid, airtight and enforceable law that stands up to reality. It’s to provide plausible deniability to harass people, or legal avenues to kangaroo court them through.

    2. Double A*

      Yes but in a state where abortion is illegal will there even be trained provider who can provide abortion care? Also this type of care is being delayed while the doctors consult with lawyers. An ectopic pregnancy is fairly cut and dried, but there’s a lot of other emergency abortion care that is less so. Doctors in some states need to justify that a woman’s life is at risk; if it’s not imminently at risk, then I suppose they just need to wait until it is to provide that care. Or they’ll just turn her away because they won’t have providers or they don’t want the liability.

      1. JSPA*

        I’ve long donated to Medical Students for Choice. There have always been some students who go through training without eventually going into reproductive care. I’ve never asked, but I assume MSFC don’t consider it a failure to have produced doctors all around the country who do know, in a pinch, how to correctly perform an abortion, but are not known as abortion providers.

    3. urguncle*

      No. This is misinformation and it actively hurts abortion care. An abortion, medically, is the demise of an embryo or fetus during gestation. The treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion. It is using the same treatment and/or medication as an abortion. Plenty of non-viable pregnancies also require abortions, like molar pregnancies and even types of miscarriages. People are having their lives put in danger over doctors who are unwilling to risk their license and practice over providing abortions, the necessary care, for ectopic pregnancies.
      One of the things that the anti-choice narrative needs to reckon with is that not every pregnancy goes according to plan and pretending that all abortion is done electively and selfishly limits safe pregnancy care.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        The Texas law at least explicitly removes treatment of ectopic pregnancy and removal of a dead fetus in the event of spontaneous abortion (naturally occurring miscarriage really) from the definition as it is defined for the purpose of the law. So it is not part of the legal definition of abortion in that case and is not banned. Laws always have “definitions” sections to state what the words mean for the purpose of the law rather than what it means in colloquial or even medical definitions.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          From the New York Times: “the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which deems abortion an “essential component” of healthcare, has warned that bans can impede the treatment of ectopic pregnancy – even if a specific exclusion is included.”

          1. Calliope*

            There’s two conversations happening here I think. One is will doctors hesitate and nor provide emergency care to women that they unambiguously should? And the answer to that is yes which is horrifying. The second question is: do these abortion laws prohibit doctors treating women in emergency situations? And the answer to that is sometimes yes, sometimes no, but federal law preempts and all medical professionals have a legal ability and obligation to render competent emergency care. Being very clear about the second helps counter the first.

        2. publicsectorprincess*

          Whether there is a carve out or not, the Texas Law is already changing the reproductive healthcare that Texas persons able to bear children receive. And there is no reason to think any of the other states with trigger laws are written so thoughtfully as to avoid these outcomes and worse.

        3. urguncle*

          Ectopics are also notoriously difficult to definitively diagnose. There are ectopic pregnancies where the signs are there, but it’s difficult to find the embryo. When there is significant restrictions being put on abortion care, having to prove that someone needs an abortion puts undue stress on the providers. The treatment for someone who is pregnant who needs for any reason to be not pregnant is an abortion.

    4. ElizabethJane*

      The issue is that in many states doctors are unsure of their own legal protections. I believe in Louisiana a woman nearly died – not because anybody thought an ectopic pregnancy wasn’t an emergency but because her medical team needed to consult with their legal team to make sure they had the proper documentation in place so that nobody got sued in the end.

      Obviously there are multiple failings happening in that situation, but there are also many other situations that are a little more grey than an ectopic where pregnant people will still die or be seriously injured if their doctors need to play legal cover-your-ass before taking action. Especially because many of these laws allow for civil suits where the defendant, even if they are innocent under the (stupid) law, will still have to spend significant time and money to assert their innocence.

      So will most people with ectopic pregnancies get the care that they need? Sure. Is it correct to say “No the laws will always save the pregnant person’s life?”. No, it is not.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        No, I understand why it is a huge problem, and the laws are never perfect. But it is still worth noting and informing people that the law, as currently written (at least in Texas), explicitly does not ban removal of the embryo in the case of ectopic pregnancy or removal of a dead fetus after miscarriage. The more they know, the less likely these things will happen.

        In other words, your concerns are completely spot on, but let’s try to spread accurate information around so that people do know where they stand as much as possible until we can finally use the election process to reverse this trainwreck!

    5. ElizabethJane*

      There’s also the treatment for a miscarriage. I had a pregnancy stop developing at roughly 6 weeks gestation. We took the “let the miscarriage happen naturally” route because it is (usually) the easiest on your body. Except for me it didn’t.

      My doctor was able to address it a couple weeks later by prescribing misoprostal, an abortificant. That worked most of the way and then I needed a D&C to finish the process.

      All of this was for a pregnancy that had stopped developing weeks prior and that was at risk of putting me into sepsis. It would, by any standards, be “OK” to treat under the most restrictive abortion laws in the US. Which is all good in theory until you live in a state where those treatments have been outlawed. Sure it’s legal to get misoprostal but no pharmacy in the state carries it. Sure it’s legal to have a D&C under those circumstances but no facility in the state will perform it. Which means its functionally illegal.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        A lot of women need that. My sister even tried misoprostal and it did not work, so they had to use a D&C. Seriously scary thought that they will scare physicians out of doing it even if it is legal.

      2. Double A*

        Wait, there was actually no misoprostal in the state? They use that medication to induce full-term labor as well; I received it during both of my inductions (at 41 weeks…). I totally understand that it might be more difficult to get but I have not heard states can ban medications with multiple uses like that.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          For me it was a non issue, I’m in a blue state. It will be an issue for some people.

          A good friend of mine cannot get the medication she uses to control her RA because it is also an abortificant.

    6. Adereterial*

      Pregnancy-ending emergency treatment was always legal in Ireland, too. That didn’t stop doctors refusing to treat women with life threatening complications because they were either misinformed as to it’s legality or too scared they’d find themselves on the end of a prosecution if someone else disagreed that the treatment was necessary.

      Do not assume that this is protection and doctors will always understand the rules – or that politicians will have written those laws to make it clear and unambiguous – because they won’t have.

      Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis, and her death was preventable. Women will die.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        That was a horrific situation, and I sincerely hope that an example was made of the hospital that allowed that poor woman to die.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          This was the Irish case in 2012 that created a massive outcry, that triggered a change of law in Ireland.

          A referendum was held in 2018, with a strong vote (66%) FOR abortion rights, which had previously been banned «unless serious risk to the life of the mother».

        2. Adereterial*

          Yes, the hospital was sued by her husband and settled. The details of that settlement aren’t public.

          But you missed the point – Ireland’s then ambiguous abortion law was cited by the inquiry into her death as a major contributing factor. Yes, there were medical failings but they were compounded by the law not being clear that abortion in her circumstances was permitted and that her doctors would not have been in the wrong for performing one.

          Be very clear – women will die of avoidable complications from miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies if abortion is criminalised, because it will introduce totally avoidable delays. Medical exemptions won’t protect them – especially when they’re written by male politicians who think reimplantation of ectopic pregnancies is a thing…

  15. Calliope*

    I agree it’s not likely to be used much and I’m not giving companies that do this any cookies. But I also think it’s as simple as saying they should all just leave. Not everyone who may need an abortion can leave their home state when their job does. I’m not saying this doesn’t deserve a sanctions style response from companies refusing to do business but we have to reckon with the human cost to marginalized people in that state when we talk about that too.

    1. Justin*

      Yeah it’s that last point that worries me. And sure we can say it was the politicians and SCOTUS that caused it but so many of these states have such poor social services that any org doing that work is in a really hard position.

      The big corps, the ones donating to these pols, etc, sure, screw them.

    2. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Also some people work remotely. The company may not operate in the state where the employee lives.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Exactly what I was thinking. Lots of big companies that could afford to “remove their business” have hundreds or thousands of workers who could not move for economic or other reasons. Putting those workers out of a job just puts people into a worse plight.

      Many others provide needed in-person services to local people. Creating more “food deserts” or removing access or competition for necessities also harms poor and marginalized people the most.

      It is very easy to make pronouncements about what ought to be done, but when you stop to think about all the ramifications it isn’t that simple.

  16. Lynn*

    My employee said that they “don’t comment on politics” and there was some…. feedback.. given to them.

    It all sucks because it’s a shitty position to be in but I think roughly options for employers are to:
    -Say its good (puke)
    -Do nothing
    -Actively say they are doing nothing
    -Say its bad and offer resources to employees
    -Say its bad, offer resources, petition lawmakers, participate in rallies, etc
    -Say its bad and move out of those states.

    And none of those are particularly great or fix the situation in the short term but at least offering resources to employees puts those employers on positive-action side of the spectrum so as problematic as that is I think its relatively less problematic than other options?

    It’s just also particularly insidious if they offer that support and then associate or donate to political campaigns that were involved in the overturning to begin with.

  17. TiredMama*

    I think it was the easiest, most immediate way to express support for employees in states that lost rights that day and in the subsequent weeks. I’m not sure how it will work in practice. I also agree with Allison that the real power is to move out of the state but that has drawbacks too. Not everyone can pack up and easily move and I know I feel some guilt when I think about leaving. It’s great that I have the option to but what about the people who do not? Another thought is that the corp funnel money to pro-choice candidates. I guess at the end of the day it felt like something in the moment but its really unclear whether corporations can really deliver.

  18. Butters*

    I would be concerned about my manager in a red state knowing that I was suddenly off for a medical procedure and figuring out what it was. I live in a purple state and my boss was railing against Satanic clubs at schools the other day. There is no way he could know why I needed that time off. I’ve even been judged by gynecologists wearing WWJD lanyards so I’m a tad nervous about all this.

  19. Eldritch Office Worker*

    “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

    But resource-wise it can be a lot easier for companies to do that for individuals to do that, which means conscientious companies moving out of red states will leave people out of work with worse options to turn to for employment. Not to mention the number of organizations offering direct support to these communities that would leave people unsupported if they left.

    I don’t know what the right answer is but I feel pretty strongly that it’s not abandoning people who live in these places.

    1. megaboo*

      Or, you know, if you work for the State or county. We don’t have wiggle room here. I’m not leaving my state because they support bans.

    2. Ginger Dynamo*

      I replied to another comment in the thread with these same thoughts, and then scrolled down to see your much more concise and cogent comment here. Thank you for sharing it!

    3. bamcheeks*

      This assumes their presence is a net good to lower income and marginalised people in that state. When you’re talking about headquarters or major campuses of big national or international companies, the reason they are in that state is usually that they are taking advantage of low taxation regimes or low regulation environments and just ignoring the violations of basic rights that overwhelmingly go along with those thing because hey, shareholders. They’re typically not there because of some altruistic commitment to providing employment to low-income southerners, they’re there because state law explicitly allows to them to underpay, doesn’t require them to contribute to essential services or doesn’t look too hard when they poison the water supply.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        You’re correct, and I’m not applying altruistic motives to the company. That said, the reality is that they are providing employment and people depend on that employment, and if they’re offering any kind of abortion benefits – including travel – they’re still better than the next guy who might come in and take that space. The people will still need jobs and many will not be able to just follow the company to a liberal state. It’s about options for those people, not about the company itself.

      2. M.W.*

        I don’t think it necessarily assumes it’s a net good, just that it is undeniably a source of jobs that will disappear. Many (most?) people don’t have the privilege of taking the company’s altruism into account when accepting a job.

  20. lnw*

    Agree with most of this response, however companies pulling business and jobs out of states with restrictives laws will also negatively impact people who live there and can’t simply relocate because they disagree with their states laws.

  21. Oogledorf*

    I would have to imagine that in cases of it not being a life threatening emergency, the employee would go through a short term disability type thing where it would be a confidential thing and work out with the insurance company for reimbursement or ‘paid up front’.

  22. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    ok, I am in no way supportive of the stripping away of women’s rights to choose, and I am fully pro-choice and devastated by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But just to keep things accurate and relieve a tiny bit of the fear of the current situation (just a pinprick in the flood of pain, admittedly), the Texas anti-abortion law explicitly removes treatment of ectopic pregnancy and removal of a dead fetus following spontaneous abortion from the definition of abortion and the ban on performing these procedures.

    It is still utterly outrageous, but I do not want women terrified that if they are in Texas right now and have an ectopic pregnancy, they will be left to die a horrible death without the necessary treatment that removes the fertilized egg, which has no chance of survival at all. At least not for now …

    Man, that was so much less reassuring than I intended when I began!

    1. MisterForkbeard*

      The problem here is that we’ve already noticed in several states that Doctors will delay or refuse treatment because they might be arrested for it. If a woman’s life is threatened by a pregnancy, some doctors wait until the threat is imminent and immediate before performing an abortion, because the abortion makes them very vulnerable legally.

      So a pregnant woman with an ectopic or otherwise dangerous pregnancy in Texas will probably get the right treatment. Eventually. Probably.

    2. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      Yes, but the reason that Savita Halappanavar died is that the fetus still had a heartbeat, even though she was septic.

    3. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

      The thing is that there’s what the actual text of the law says, and then there’s what people will actually do to make sure they’re on the right side of the law. Some people may run right up to the borderline of what’s allowed, but many won’t — many doctors will try to stay well clear of the line, and will refuse to perform procedures that may very well be technically permitted.

      1. goducks*

        yes. Even if you’re right as a doctor, it can be outrageously expensive to fight to prove it. Plenty of doctors will just decide to stay away from anything that might be investigated.

  23. Meow*

    Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I disagree, I really do think it falls more in the “stunt” category. They know that most people would feel uncomfortable asking for this “benefit”, and not just that, but it’s an easy out for them to continue doing business in states that don’t support peoples’ rights.

    1. Public Sector Manager*

      I agree. A lot of these companies didn’t start their operations in those states. They moved their companies to those states because they could get away with paying their new employees less, offering their employees fewer benefits, providing less workers’ compensation coverage, and if they had to lay off employees, pay less for unemployment insurance. And they gave ZERO F’s about their employees in their home state when they closed their local facility and moved solely because doing so would increase corporate profits. How much does a week off work, travel, and medical care really cost a Fortune 500 company?

      Anything other than moving their company out of those states is a stunt. “Oh, our state disrespects someone’s personal autonomy and bodily choices, but the weather’s great!”

  24. Kicking the Hornets Nest*

    Legal issues aside, paying for abortion care, or egg freezing, etc., is cheaper for the company than paid maternal leave. The timing of these announcements is regarding the supreme ct decision is just an ad gimmick.

  25. tessa*

    That’s awful.

    A few years ago, I was unemployed, and signed up for an ACA plan. The plan allowed me to get a pap for very low cost. The gynecologist, a male, was only one of maybe 3 in the whole area who accepted people with ACA plans. He also had a few Christian symbols adorning the office walls. As an atheist, I was near tears in appreciation of his kindness and grace, and that he was abiding by the teachings of his Christ (helping the poor and needy).

    So rare these days; I often think of him now, given where we are. There are a few bright spots out there.

    But I’m sorry for your situation, Butters.

  26. Jennifer in FL*

    Once again, I am asking people to STOP saying that corporations/companies/etc leave red states, as if red states exist in a vacuum of intolerance and bigotry and not as a calculated result of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and unelected judges making calculated rulings.

    1. Lysine*

      Why not? I have a uterus. I wouldn’t want to live someplace that views me as an incubator without agency. Regardless of the reasons why red states are the way they are, the fact remains that they have decided to treat women a certain way and I don’t see why someone should have to endure it if they don’t want to.

      1. Calliope*

        They don’t and shouldn’t but if the reason a company is leaving is to help the people who live there they should balance that against the fact that a lot of people are basically stuck.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        You don’t have to. But some people already live there and don’t have a choice, and the more pro-choice people and organizations that leave the more those people will be left alone. Not everyone can just leave.

        1. Lysine*

          Sure, not everyone can just leave. That was true before this happened too. But the idea that people or corporations should stay in certain places solely to help others is odd to me because there’s no proof that staying with actually help anyone?

          On the one hand the OP acknowledges that these states are the way they are due to political gerrymandering and on the other hand says people should just stay (even if they don’t have to)? Why? If the state is ALREADY messed up me or companies staying isn’t going to improve anything because clearly me/companies being there in the first place didn’t prevent this from happening.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            If you have a company that’s going to pay for you to get an out of state abortion, and all such companies leave the state, you will end up working somewhere that does not do so. I don’t know what proof would look like exactly but I know taking away resources from people who are already struggling isn’t the right move.

            People don’t have to stay but many people won’t be able to leave and those people are not less important.

            1. Lysine*

              To me what this poster is basically saying is “set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.” It’s noble to keep other people warm and other people are worthy of warmth, but at some point you also need to take care of yourself and telling people or corporations they shouldn’t leave a red state purely out of duty to others and to neglect their own needs is just wrong.

              1. Calliope*

                Not really. Nobody is saying they shouldn’t leave period. They’re saying that it’s more complicated to say they should leave instead of offering to pay for abortions.

              2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                I think what the poster is saying, or trying to, is don’t paint everyone in the South with the same brush.

                Which I think is also what we’re saying when we say don’t forget about the people who can’t leave, which is why I’m agreeing. But I do take your point that the actual messaging was defensive and self-serving.

                1. Jennifer in FL*

                  Yep, my messaging was intentionally defensive and self-serving because too many people consider the population of my state underserving and expendable, and I’m tired of it.

              3. Sylvan*

                It’s more like: If you supposedly care about an issue, do something about it. Don’t just make a bunch of noise about your feelings and leave. Help people. You know, the ones directly affected by the thing you’re upset about?

              4. Irish Teacher*

                I took it more as saying that companies moving their business as a protest (which is valid) and simply letting all the local people go and hiring people in a blue state instead means that the ordinary people of the state they were in lose their jobs. Yeah, the state also loses revenue and if enough companies did it, it might well cause them to change their policies, but it would also mean huge unemployment in the state and people who can’t afford to leave being completely dependent on state benefits (and I may be wrong but my impression is a lot of the more conservative states in the US don’t exactly give great benefits to the unemployed either). I don’t think it is saying that those running the companies are under an obligation to remain in the state if they feel unsafe there. I think it is saying that pulling your business out to support the ordinary people has minuses as well as pluses.

          2. Jennifer in FL*

            In no way did I say that “people should just stay even if they don’t have to”.

            I’m saying that I am sick of tired of the entire population of red states being treated as expendable because of the actions of a few.

      3. PotsPansTeapots*

        I would love to live somewhere else, but my partner has to live here to take care of family. None of us makes choices about our reproductive freedom in a vacuum.

    2. WhataDay*

      “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

      I understand the knee-jerk reaction, but this is not helpful. I think it comes across as very entitled, though I know you did not mean it that way.

    3. Anon for This*

      Another thing about this is that many companies can’t just relocate at the drop of a hat, especially if it’s where their main operations are. When companies do move to other states, it’s after years of planning and coordination. Property acquisition, etc. complicate matters. And once they do move, not all of the employees follow for various reasons, such as wanting to stay close to extended family. This could leave some women with fewer resources than ones working for companies that do offer this benefit.

      Meanwhile, a few years later, the new state could have a change in political wind and end up passing similar laws. Does the company move again? If the original state changes its laws back to the more palatable situation, do they move back?

      That said, tech companies where most of the work is done remotely can probably do this quite easily, as many jump around the country chasing tax breaks.

    4. kittycontractor*


      I too am in Florida and while I don’t have any family so in theory I could “pick up and leave” that’s just simply not doable for most people. Their family is here, their kids go to school here, their partner may have a decent paying job here or they have a home that they can afford. People have commitments, sometime by “choice”, sometimes by legal reason (custody, court order, etc.) so telling those people “yep, first your body autonomy is taken away and now we want you do lose your employment” isn’t really the answer. And it’s effing expensive to move. The people who this decision most impacted are going to be those who also have the least financial means to go around it.

    5. Nikki*

      Exactly my thought when I got to that portion of the response. I live in a very blue city in a state that used to be a swing state and is now super red and made abortion illegal the day Roe was overturned. This has been home for my entire life, most of my family and friends live here, and I love the life I have here. No longer having access to abortions terrifies me but I’m not going to pick up and start from scratch at this point in my life. The idea that the company I work for might pack up and move is unnerving and it’s upsetting that people in this comments section don’t understand that people have lots of reasons for living where they do that have nothing to do with state politics.

    6. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      While I do wonder about the pressure some highly publicized company departures could make, I also think it’s very important to consider the likelihood of a federal ban coming in 2024 if things go even worse. And if not 2024, 2028. Leaving a state may very well not be an option in this decade.

  27. MI Dawn*

    I work in health insurance and a good number of staff who work with provider contracts have reached out to my area. Most of them are looking at it as a reimbursement – you put out the money initially and then file a claim on your own. No telling your employer you want to have an abortion. This is how current medical travel works (i.e., if you need to travel for cancer treatment and stay in that area for a time). So while it may a stunt, please know that for many companies it already exists and they are just expanding the reason travel may be allowed.

    1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

      I was wondering about this, since needing medical care for stigmatized procedures or health problems is a common topic here. Sounds like companies need to emphasize that insurance claims are private, if that’s in fact the case. And if it isn’t, then both the companies and the government need solid privacy protections pronto.

  28. anonymous today*

    “I think less than being a stunt that they figure they’ll never have to pay out on, it reflects a lack of understanding from overwhelmingly male and privileged corporate decision-makers about real people’s lives.”

    I find this sentiment interesting, because at my company all of the people pushing and requesting and asking for the policy change are people born with a uterus, like myself.

  29. Lysine*

    I remember having this same question when I saw those reports. I was just questioning whether they were going to require people to disclose to their employer that they are seeking an abortion and how invasive that would be. I didn’t even get to the issues of emergency abortions or trying to prosecute those who help people acquire abortions out of state.

  30. MisterForkbeard*

    This is a case of “it’s not much, but it’s something”. I doubt companies will ever have to pay for this in bulk, though I’m also sure it’ll be helpful around the margins.

    But for many companies, leaving those red states just isn’t an option. We recently moved our HQ from CA to Texas after a decade-long expansion of our offices there and we can’t just leave. And we won’t advocate significantly for actual change in the TX government, at least partially because Republican Governance right now is vindictive as all hell – look at DeSantis, Trump and Abbot: they use the government to punish companies that make even anodyne statements against them, let alone action.

    This is one of those things that will (eventually) make it harder to hire in Red States and that will impact their ability over time. Basically, a woman would require extra compensation at minimum to live there because this introduces a large amount of inconvenience, not to mention potential risk to their lives. And over time, that causes companies to begin hiring elsewhere.

    And yes, this all sucks.

    1. The pragmatist*

      This is one of those things that will (eventually) make it harder to hire in Red States and that will impact their ability over time.

      People — not just corporations — are relocating from states like New York and California to ones like Idaho and Texas. Perhaps the overturning of Roe will affect this trend, but I doubt it. People choose where to live based on many factors: climate, affordability of housing, economic prosperity, and so on, not just politics. And even most pro-choice people are not single-issue voters.

      1. Ginger Dynamo*

        Part of the relocation push to Texas (I know less about Idaho) was driven by companies moving their HQs there because they could pay fewer taxes and lower wages given the lower cost of living relative to places like Silicon Valley. Companies like Tesla have pretty much wrecked the Austin housing market with all the wealthy Silicon Valley transplants they brought over. People choose where to live, but some of that big relocation push was a result of businesses choosing where people wanted to live. And if you have corporations move away with Roe repealed, you’re going to have people move away as well to follow their next job prospects (of course, not all—but some of the people who stay really wish they could get out of Dodge if they had the means.)

      2. MisterForkbeard*

        I’m not sure that’s true.

        There was a recent study for CA that showed that relocation from the state is at… normal levels. People have always left NY and CA for cheaper places.

        Overall though, hiring will now be more difficult in red states. Maybe not enough to matter – but it’s going to be harder.

  31. Lumos*

    My employer is my health insurer and they offer this perk. So for my specific employer claims are submitted through the health insurance as normal claims. They’re just expanding what you’re allowed to claim.

  32. Mari*

    So, fwiw:

    My spouse works for a company that announced this. They’re big, and tech, and most of their work isn’t done in states with restrictions, but they announced it publicly. Then, internally, within 48 hours, they rolled out a HR form that basically says:
    # of days you’re taking (up to two weeks)
    State you will be travelling to
    Date of departure
    Expected date of return to home state
    Expected date of return to work

    You fill that out, and HR goes to your manager and says “This person is taking personal leave, effective X, returning Y”. That’s what your manager/team gets.

    When you’re back, you fill out a second form that basically looks like the standard expense form:
    Submit airline/train/gas and/or car rental bill (I think it’s capped at 2k)
    Submit hotel bill (capped at a couple hundred a day)
    Submit food expenses (up to $50/day)
    Submit ‘meeting/appointment fee’ expenses – with a notice that this form is covered by HIPAA, and will not be entered in your personal file.

    If you paid for it on your personal cards, all reimbursements will be completed within two weeks. If you have a corporate card, you may put it all on that, and then submit the form as usual for reconciliation.

    There was some concern that this would be abused – people would take vacation on the company dime – so you do have to fill out form two – with the invoice of the procedure. BUT, once that is done, it basically … goes away. There’s no note on your file, there’s no taking that leave out of any other leave ‘bucket’ – not personal, not vacation, doesn’t count towards family support leave totals or STD. They have designated a small team of VERY senior folks to be the only ones who process these, and those people are not the ‘usual’ folks who you might interact with if you had a regular HR issue, so that there’s not a lot of ‘people know what’s going on’ exposure.

    Is it perfect? No. Are they at least TRYING to back up their words with decent actions? Yes. And given that the ‘telling the team’ action is IDENTICAL to the actions if you go to HR for emergency family leave, or medical leave, or bereavement leave, and there’s a really strong company culture around NOT pushing about that when people get back – and they follow that up with discipline and transfers and even firings for folks who get shirty about asking questions – it should allow folks who need to use it to do so with relative privacy.

    1. J*

      Thank you so much for sharing how a plan works. I think for people whose employers have announced this, they should look to some of the concerns you raised re: privacy, costs, approval, and see how their own employer plans look. And make sure the announcement of having this benefit wasn’t the entire plan.

    2. Lysine*

      If this is how the benefit is implemented at companies this is a relief! I was having a difficult time seeing how this benefit could be used without serious privacy issues, but this makes way more sense than telling your boss you’re going out of state for an abortion in a pto request.

    3. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

      Thanks for the info! This is a beautiful template for a workable system, and I hope it’s an industry standard.

    4. Goody*

      I am not actually asking for this info (and in fact will very likely forget to check comments again for an answer anyway), but I would love to know which company this is. They deserve an atta-boy and to have business directed their way.

  33. HR in the City*

    I was reading an article from SHRM yesterday that said all these restrictive abortion laws will also impact fertility treatments. Embryos are created during IVF and the most restrictive laws would make it a crime to freeze or dispose of embryos or do a selective reduction (thus resulting in more high risk births due to multiples). Costs go up for healthcare and everyone pays not just women. So the consequences of this decision reach into health care far beyond one medical procedure that they are looking to stop. I think everyone needs to be aware of how this will impact all of us and our employers. I also worry about whether there could be another case like with Hobby Lobby not offering birth control under their health plan. Are companies going to be able to gut health plans on what is covered because of all these medical procedures now being criminal under the law.

    1. MisterForkbeard*

      These laws have a ton of really awful effects that the authors just didn’t care about or didn’t bother to deal with. The Fetal Personhood ones are even worse – it immediately creates whole new crimes (child endangerment if a pregnant woman does anything remotely dangerous, just as an example), screws up inheritance laws, requires you to claim fetuses on taxes, and all sorts of things.

      That’s in addition to the immediate and awful knock-on effects for medical care, women’s rights, and so on.

    2. J*

      The CLE I attended yesterday definitely warned of this. This was a part 1, where we were discussing benefit plans more than healthcare implications (that’s the second part) but they said we should audit healthcare plans for IVF coverage and freezing/storage policies to ensure they don’t violate state law.

  34. Atalanta0jess*

    Companies moving doesn’t protect their employees – it changes who their employees are. So the original employees, the ones in states without abortion access, now don’t have abortions OR jobs. I’m not sure that’s the solution…

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      @Alison – a lot of people are making this point (myself included admittedly) and it does seem important not to advocate abandoning people stuck in red states. Would you consider changing that part of your answer?

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Right? It just moves their operations to a group of employees who are already protected at the state level and fires the ones who are unprotected at the state level. I guess it makes a financial (carrot/stick) point to the states in question, but it doesn’t help the people who are left without access to reproductive health care AND without a job.

    3. Sylvan*

      This always happens when something bad goes down in red states. People on the outside who claim to care so much about the issue wash their hands of it as quickly as possible, because they can afford to do that and the locals can’t.

    4. Ginger Dynamo*

      With any of these kinds of economic interventions, it’s important to think about who is feeling the pinch. Like you said, companies that would otherwise provide this loophole access to abortions leaving the state would not bring their whole staff with them, and those who are left behind would be job hunting among the remaining businesses that are less likely to promote abortion access in this way. If anything, those employees left behind would have even less access to abortions than before the company left. And will those businesses leaving actually create enough economic pressure to persuade the state government to reverse bans? Or will state governments hunker down now that there are fewer influential dissidents within state lines, while corporations that do not oppose the ban or that actively bankroll those government officials’ campaigns fill the market vacuum? And this is just looking at corporations in the state leaving—there may be another layer of nuance looking at out-of-state corporations instituting broad boycotts for all business in states criminalizing abortion. I’m no economics expert, so I really hope I’m wrong in these worries, but based on what a friend who has made a career of fighting for abortion access in the Deep South has seen in recent years, some of these consequences may have already started to pinch the wrong people even before the repeal of Roe v Wade.

  35. PR grandstanding*

    It’s to settle the outraged (rightfully, mind you) masses during the interim. Many of these companies are behind the politicians whose goal is to strip agency from women.
    They offer this as a band aid, to give hope- then they’ll remove that when vocal and visible opposition is branded a terrorist threat.

    Cynical? Yes. Also true.

  36. SpicySpice*

    Let’s get real. All these companies happily donate to conservative politicians in the same states where this is happening. They don’t care, as long as they get some kind of tax break. This is feel-good corporate pandering. I’ll eat my own hat if any of these companies take REAL action, such as moving to a new state or stopping campaign donations FOREVER for the anti-choice pols. Bodily autonomy shouldn’t be a “worker perk” based on who you work for.

    1. MisterForkbeard*

      During the Trump years, there used to be regular complaints and petitions from a good chunk of our company’s workforce that our executives were explicitly breaking the ‘corporate ethics and values’ we all had to take training in by publicly supporting Trump and several of his policies.

      There were usually specific examples and very few of them were arguable at all – it was pretty cut and dried. And nothing ever happened, because execs at large companies aren’t held to these standards – they’re held to stock and company performance standards if at all. And in that case, siding with the authoritarian party had significant benefits so that’s what they did. And the Board backed them up every time.

      And this is at a company where the policies and culture is pretty left-leaning, environmentally friendly, good on equality in the workforce and so on.

      1. The pragmatist*

        There were usually specific examples and very few of them were arguable at all – it was pretty cut and dried.

        Give examples. Be specific.
        I am vociferously anti-Trump, but people have differing political opinions and ought to be allowed to advocate for them in public.

  37. Love to WFH*

    If there are going to be lawsuits about “aiding & abetting” women getting healthcare, I do like to think that they will hit a team of corporate lawyers, rather than individuals scrambling to pay a lawyer.

  38. Schmarchitect*

    My assumption is that companies recognize that it’s cheaper to pay for a flight to a nearby state for a relatively low-cost medical procedure than it is to have women on maternity leave and to add more children to health insurance plans. So it’s a money-saving capitalist stunt that will hopefully have actually helpful outcomes, though I’m as dubious as Alison as to how helpful it’ll actually be at the end of the day.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      this is the part I don’t like. To directly answer the question AAM asked, I would say 50/50 because it depends on the specific company. Some may feel it helps, others doing it feels icky though? Like if I worked at Amazon and they offered this, I would freak out. Basically any company that wants their workers to be robotic worker bees, I do not want paying for this because it feels like their main concern is shutting you up and getting you back to work.

  39. J*

    If anyone is in HR or in house counsel, I’ve noticed a lot of law firms having presentations on this topic. I was able to attend a Part 1 yesterday. I felt pretty comfortable with my legal knowledge of the changes in my state since I had just come from a repro-focused nonprofit but there were several implications I hadn’t quite thought through on the employer side. Some examples: remote employees in a red state but benefits provided through blue state guidance, insured v self funded plans, discrimination in travel plans that are limited to just abortion, taxation of the travel benefit, ERISA implications, EAP options, and Section 7 of the NLRA (even if you aren’t union). I highly recommend getting this level of info.

    Previously I had thought these were stunts and I still do unless a plan has been presented to employees. But knowing how complex these policies must be to be utilized and implemented and the many threats of lawsuits, I’m impressed when a company does build out a plan. I think if your employer announces this, allies in the workforce would do well to request guidance so it’s not on a pregnant person facing this to catch gaps in coverage or allowances.

  40. Health Insurance Nerd*

    Not sure if this has already been mentioned, but in most cases companies are deploying this benefit through their health insurance provider, and employees will use a reimbursement process much in the same way they do for getting reimbursed for their gym membership. It’s not a question of going to your HR department and asking them to cut you a check for a plain ticket or mileage reimbursement. For that reason this benefit is not the land mine of privacy violations that many people are making it out to be.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      That’s what I assumed – through health insurance or some other third party company experienced with privacy where the individual making the request would never get back to the company, the company would just periodically get a bill with a cost.

    2. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Updating to add: I understand that there ARE some companies who are going to use their HR department to administer the benefit, but for larger organizations it will likely be outsourced to their insurance for a whole host of reasons.

    3. BethRA*

      Right. We’re in Massachusetts, but if we had to deal with something like this (if we found ourselves with remote employees in states with abortion bans or bans on gender-affirming care), we’d probably handle it the same way we do our HRA – through our benefits broker. Doesn’t solve for everything, but it does save people having to reveal private medical information to managers or even in-house HR.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      That does bring up the question, however, of whether health insurance companies will agree to cover abortions, particularly if they are headquartered or have operations in states where abortion is illegal. I mean, the company would be at risk of legal liability if they provided coverage for an illegal procedure, right?

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        Specific to the coverage that my company is offering,, and that our employer groups are choosing to adopt, employers have to have chosen to cover abortion as a benefit in order for people to utilize the travel benefit. My daughter lives in a trigger state, but she is covered under my insurance. If she were to need an abortion, she would travel to my state, where abortion is legal and covered by our insurance plan, and could be reimbursed for her plane tickets. For plans based in states where abortion is, or will soon be, illegal, I can’t see insurance companies being able to offer coverage, and it also wouldn’t be possible to find a provider willing to perform the procedure and then submit a claim to the insurance company for payments. What a giant mess all of this is :(

  41. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

    That suggestion is another way to widen the divide between the haves and have-nots, and almost reeks of privilege. There are countless reasons why employees could not pack up and move with a company, so that would leave them unemployed, uninsured, and stuck even more firmly in a red state. I’d rather see a realistic suggestion. And the questions raised by the LW are legitimate, but also leaning into the problem that arises in politics, where good isn’t good enough, and unless something/someone is perfect in every way by every possible definition, too many people scream NO. I wish we’d stop punishing people and companies for not being absolutely perfect, especially in their initial response to a new situation. It’s all very well to say that a company should have known, and had a contingency plan, but the same could be said for individuals, if we want to be fair.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It is phenomenally privileged.

      It’s privileged for the obvious financial reasons, but it’s also basically saying that people don’t deserve continued support unless they move and become more like you. Red States aren’t populated entirely by Boss Hoggs and their Stepford Wives, they’re just the ones who do the gerrymandering. It boggles my mind that people can hand-wring so much about Southern voter suppression and then apparently forget that it’s the reason we’re held hostage to Abbott, etc., as soon as it gets really uncomfortable.

      1. Jennifer in FL*


        It’s also worth remembering that states like Texas and Georgia and Florida were BLUE STATES INTO THE LATE 1990s! You think your state won’t go red?? Don’t be so sure.

        1. The pragmatist*

          This is a bit of an exaggeration.
          Texas has not really been a blue state since the days of LBJ. Its last statewide D officeholder was Ann Richards, who left the governorship in 1994. Georgia voted for Coverdell in 1992.
          The better examples are in the Midwest

      2. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

        AMEN. The people most impacted by these BS laws don’t have a few thousand dollars sitting around for moving expenses, or confidence in getting a job elsewhere.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Yup. My company does business in about 10 states. There are pros and cons of every state, if we withdrew from every state with excessive laws, we’d be out of business. We obviously aren’t alone in this. Some (blue) states have some laws that have gone overboard such as “every widget must have a label in 9.2 font that says the widget is a widget and the wigdet must be between 2/3 and 2.5/3 inches and have a disclaimer saying it must not be less than 2/3 and must have a 14 year warranty” type stuff that makes doing business in them a huge headache as well. Even if you wanted to switch to these states because of abortion rules, it’s not practical because you need to hire lawyers and admin staff and update your software to deal with the increased compliance work.

      1. Sarah*

        I’m sorry, are you equating manufacturing legislation to denying people life saving healthcare? Come on with this. All legislation isn’t the same; some is evil.

        1. Anontoday*

          I don’t think that’s what they were saying at all. I think they were just reflecting on the practicality. That’s all.

      2. Nameless in Customer Service*

        There’s a saying that “The History of Safety Regulation is Written in Blood”. Those widgets being mislabeled may have caused someone’s death, as improbable as it sounds.

        Considering there are several threads discussing miscarriages, sepsis, etc, above your comments, the demand to prove that abortion can be life saving healthcare is pretty much just a time-waster.

  42. Mar*

    I work for one of these companies. These types of reimbursements go directly through HR (or even a third party like Progeny) and your manager will never know anything other than you were out on a type of leave that they have no say in or that you were reimbursed.

  43. E*

    My concern is more: if you work for a company that provides benefits this comprehensive, you probably have more options to begin with, right? For example if your company takes Alison’s advice and leaves the state, you could maybe leave too.

    But what about everyone still living in that state, who doesn’t have the means to leave, or get an abortion? Who maybe didn’t have that kind of coverage to begin with?

    Not the company’s fault per se (depending on what they’ve lobbied for and against through the years). Maybe they’re doing all that’s in their power to do right away. But still I’m not sure how many people these policies will wind up helping.

  44. Serin*

    My company sent out one of these announcements. I value it as a statement of company culture — it suggests that, for instance, if I got photographed at an abortion-rights protest, it’s unlikely that I’d get fired for it — if I had a disagreement with a co-worker on the subject, I could probably feel confident that I could get help from my boss or HR if I found myself facing retaliation in a way that affected my work — that kind of thing.

    But am I going to go to my company and go, “Hey, I need to go/take my kid to California for an abortion”?

    Sure, I’ll fill out this online form. My name and ID, kid’s name and ID, etc. Now I just have to trust that federal law will never change in a way that requires them to hand this information over, that company culture will never change in a way that means I could face professional repercussions after the fact, and that there will never be a data breach.

    I’m glad they mean well, but it’s not a benefit that’s safe to use.

  45. CatPerson*

    I think that you are being unfair to companies that are offering this benefit. Medical plans already have travel reimbursement for some procedures. For example, they would not reimburse travel for an MRI because most people would not have to travel far to get one, or if they do choose to travel out of state for one they should have to foot the bill. These companies are enhancing the list of reimbursable procedures that already exist in their medical plans. You’re not submitting travel receipts to your manager for approval, you’re using an already established medical claims process through the insurance carrier. And let’s face it, even if they said nothing about reimbursing abortion travel, you’d still need the time off if you live in such a state and you would still have to inform your employer that you need it. Policies that cover obtaining medical care that require time off would still apply and the fact that some procedures are emergencies has nothing to do with it: that’s not the employer’s fault. Don’t blame the company for stepping up. Blame the Supreme Court and your State legislatures. I worked for a company that had employees in almost all 50 states. Are you actually saying that employers should lay off all employees in those states that restrict abortion? That’s just–not good for those employees, is it. You must think that the fired employees should just move to another state, or, what exactly do you suggest there? You’re definitely not thinking this one through.

  46. Joan*

    Journalist Judd Legum (@JuddLegum on twitter) has compiled a list of companies that have made these types of pledges to their employees AND have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians trying to ban abortion.

    1. Box of Kittens*

      Seconding his work! He is a fantastic reporter and focuses on stories big outlets aren’t covering.

  47. Wendy*

    I work for a Fortune 50 company, and the ability to travel to another state to get access to medical care was already covered. It would not force an employee to disclose to their supervisor or anyone at the company, really, since it’s part of medical benefits. Statement from the CEO on this: “​​​​​​​We currently offer benefits that address a wide range of family planning and reproductive health services. Our medical plans have also long included travel and lodging coverage for procedures that may be difficult to receive locally, and this benefit has been recently expanded with UnitedHealthcare and Premera, to ensure it includes a full range of your health care needs.”

    Because it’s covered under medical benefits, my employer would not know that I specifically sought this care any more than any other necessary procedure.

    1. miss chevious*

      I work for a very large company that issued a similar statement — I don’t have to go to my boss and say “hey, I’m having an abortion!” I just go to the provider and it’s handled through insurance.

      I would also like to add that, while I certainly understand where people are coming from with regard to being cynical about these statements, I for one was appreciative that my employer is including this in its benefits and made a statement saying so. They aren’t perfect–capitalism is a multi-headed monster and corporations aren’t charities–but they are doing something to support employees who need this benefit and that does have an impact.

  48. Dust Bunny*

    :”Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

    Sorry, getting on my soapbox here.

    They need to lobby against policies like this.

    They already lobby for all kinds of stuff, anyway, so they could be using this money and clout for good.

    But I’m tired of people basically saying “cut these states loose”. These states are also home to the bulk of the US’s minority and underserved populations, and abandoning them even more so you can isolate yourselves even more firmly with nice like-minded humanitarians isn’t helpful. If you’ve been saying Black Lives Matter don’t turn around and joke/not joke about stuff that leaves more than half the country’s African-American population even more vulnerable.

    I live in Texas. I’m comfortably insured and hurtling toward middle age so the odds of me ever needing an abortion are vanishingly small. I’m staying right here to vote against these monsters.

    1. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

      I came here to say this. Saying that companies should just move out of state is about the worst (and impractical) advice ever. Politicians live and die by fundraising. They literally schedule several hours per day to make phone calls and meet with donors. These companies have tremendous power to promote policies that benefit their employees. Stay in the state and donate to politicians that promote the values you espouse in your mission statements. Give your employees the day off to vote. Running away just means things will get worse because there is no one or no corporation to stop them.

  49. whistle*

    Kinda disappointed that the advice is for businesses to leave states with restrictive abortion laws. First, that’s like half the states. Second, that just leaves the people in those states with fewer options. I am in a red state with a trigger law (that is currently blocked by the courts). I will not be leaving. I will stay and fight for my family and my neighbors! This is my home, and I will not live in a theocracy!

    Here is what I would like to see from a large company that supports reproductive freedom:
    1. Publicly declare that you will not give any money to GOP candidates/anti-choice Dem candidates until the federal government protects abortion access for all.
    2. Actually don’t give any money to said candidates.
    3. Give money to local groups providing abortion access services and/or fighting against ballot measures that will restrict abortion. (Vote NO on 2 in Kentucky this November!)
    4. Start flouting the law! There are lots ways a wealthy powerful company can just break the law and then pay the penalties.
    5. Pay the legal fees for healthcare providers who get caught up in this mess.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. I think it’s fine for a company not to expand to a state which has made abortion (and trans healthcare) illegal or difficult. They should make that policy clear. Also not force formerly remote employees to move to states where abortion is illegal (i.e letter about the partner’s company wanting him in person in Texas).

      I believe it’s unrealistics to ask a company to move (they won’t), but doing so would leave many employees high and dry. Many won’t want to or won’t be able to move. As much as I am upset by this, I am not leaving my very blue city in a red state and all the culture and history and roots and my family to move somewhere else.

      In talking with my friends they’ve pointed out that alot of the states where abortion is legal is where the climate is too darn cold for our preference and also in some cases very white. They don’t want to live some place with that few people of color.

      A problem with this mess is that in a lot of states there are blue sections and red sections and even though the laws are along state lines, the citizens of the state are not in agreement.

  50. Phony Genius*

    How does this work if you live in a restrictive state and work remotely for a company headquartered in a state with no restrictions? Can they legally help? Also, does “taking their business out of these states” mean that they should just lay off all workers who are working remotely from these states?

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      How it should work is that if you are working remotely in a restrictive state for a company with health insurance that covers abortion, you’ll be able to travel to a state where abortion is legal and have one (if you need one). I know that there is a lot of swirl around states trying to pass laws that make it illegal for residents to seek care in other states, but I think (I HOPE!) that will be a really, really tough sell. It would be like telling someone who lives in a state where recreational marijuana is still illegal that they can’t go to a state where it is legal and get stoned.

  51. had to find my insurance docs for this one*

    Just my experience as this may not apply to everyone, but my Chicago-HQ’d company also added abortion travel coverage this year. It applies to employees who work in states where they cannot access abortions, and it goes through our health insurance provider, which is likely the case for other big companies. So you wouldn’t request the assistance from your employer, but instead the request flows through insurance. My insurance covered this starting June 1st for the record, which is likely when some other major companies did this too, they just waited until Roe was officially overturned to announce anything publicly. It’s a regular reimbursement process that only your insurance sees.

  52. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    This is a bad read.

    Alison’s last point can be effective, but it also means putting people out of work. Pulling your corporations out of a state should be seen as a last resort to change, not the fist defense.

    While I agree that most employees aren’t going to be knocking on HR’s door to schedule an abortion trip, it is a way for companies to signal to the states they’re in that this isn’t a change they want to corporate with. This is why you’re now seeing states working on ways to criminalize abortions via interstate travel.

    This is also new for everyone. It’s weird to demand a highly polished and compressive policy (‘And it’s not clear how employers will reconcile these policies with laws that criminalize helping someone receive an abortion across state lines.’) on something no one has had to deal with yet. The situation is evolving and decisions are going to be made at game-time.

    1. Reality Check*

      Agree…also there is a world of difference between an ectopic pregnancy treatment (Which NO ONE is talking about limiting) and elective abortion.
      It is sad to see political talking points on what I love reading as an APOLITICAL community

    2. MsM*

      It’s not like there hasn’t been ample warning this was coming. Which admittedly would not make it a priority for departments too slammed with existing time-sensitive issues to work on things that haven’t gone into effect yet, but employees who are trying to figure out whether *they* need to be looking at job opportunities elsewhere can’t necessarily afford to take a “wait and see” approach.

  53. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    Don’t know if anybody pointed it out already, but this is largely done through health insurance – so the employer would pay an extra premium to the health insurance company, and all reimbursements and reasons (etc, etc) would be handled WAY separately from a person’s supervisor, team, accounts payable, or even HR. At least, that’s what most companies *should* do. It would amend the health plan already in place or it would take effect on the health plan’s next open enrollment period. The employer itself would probably not even know who used this service – because HR gets, at best, an aggregate of how much was spent per person, not necessarily how it was spent. But in the case of a self-insured plan, HR has an ethical, moral, and legal obligation to not divulge any information regarding an employee’s PHI, like usual. Plus, it gets added as a “travel for health reasons” service, so anybody who needs to get treatment elsewhere could take advantage of this, not necessarily for abortion. Say, I live in Mississippi and need to take my child to St. Jude in Tennessee, I would be reimbursed using the same perk.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Some people in the comments are reporting it’s happening through HR at their companies, but yes! Totally agree this should be set up in a way that never crosses a manager’s desk.

      That said – people are deleting their period tracking apps for fear of being monitored, so I still think the apprehension about using employer healthcare to pay or travel for an abortion could be quite real.

      1. Serin*

        * people are deleting their period tracking apps for fear of being monitored, so I still think the apprehension about using employer healthcare to pay or travel for an abortion could be quite real.

        Yes, exactly. We’re talking about my company footing the bill for me to commit a crime, in a world where at least once a year we get an email “RE: CafePress / Experian / Facebook data breach class action lawsuit.” It’s not irrational to be very cautious about it.

  54. Delphine*

    It’s the kind of lip-service that has become emblematic of liberal politics of late: sounds nice, makes people feel good, focuses on the individual, and has little to no meaningful impact on the issue itself or on the people affected as a class. Women and other people who can manage to circumvent these laws, due to their own means or by using help (employers/organizations), have still lost their right to bodily autonomy. That’s the issue! We have to win that right back. It’s one thing if a company is helping reduce the impact of these laws on their employees through paying for travel (etc.) *and* funding pro-choice politicians *and* using its influence as leverage, but most companies are only saying they’ll pay for travel and doing nothing more.

    I’m applying this specifically to major companies. They are likely to put these kinds of policies in place for the PR, and probably do little else (and often even fund anti-choice politicians and organizations). I don’t think this applies to smaller businesses that don’t have any particular leverage and can only do one thing: support their employees to the best of their means.

  55. Down the rabbit hole*

    For my employer (gigantic tech company) it’s described as assisting with travel when you “don’t have access to the necessary reproductive healthcare in your state.” I believe there are digital forms and reimbursement schemes but it sounds like you would have to pay out of pocket and then get reimbursed.

    I know we won’t be ceasing business in those states because of data centers and other infrastructure.

  56. MsMaryMary*

    I am an employee benefits consultant and I am working with several employers who are actively exploring how to support employees who need to travel for abortion services.

    As someone mentioned upthread, some employers are expanding the travel benefit already in their medical plan. Current travel benefits usually only apply to complex, rare procedures like an organ transplant that can only be performed at certain facilities. Employers and insurers are considering expanding that benefit to any medical services that cannot be performed in an employee’s home state, or within a certain distance of their home. Broadening the travel benefit for services beyond just abortion not only could include transgender healthcare or birth control, but is likely legally required to stay compliant with the Mental Health Parity Enforcement Act. Employees would submit travel reimbursement through the medical plan, no employer interaction. There are IRS limits on reimbursing travel expenses pre-tax, which would apply to these benefits.

    Other employers are looking at having a third party administer a travel fund, or including travel for abortions to be a permitted expense under a “lifestyle” or “wellbeing” fund employees could access for multiple purposes. There are companies who already administer similar benefits. Employees could also likely use existing FSA and HSA dollars without direct employer involvement.

    There are definitely A LOT of legal considerations still being worked through. Medical plans and all of these funds cannot pay for services that are against the law. With some states looking to make traveling for an abortion or helping someone travel for an abortion illegal, that’s a huge concern. Companies who have a fully insured plan (they pay a premium to the insurance company as opposed to paying for claims directly) will be subject to the state laws in which that plan is issued.

    Even if your benefits or HR people, or C suite leadership, want to be supportive of abortion access, they need to work with legal counsel and see what vendors and administrators can or will do. It also means it’s more likely a Fortune 500 company, particularly a progressive one, may roll the dice and implement some policies quickly, and less likely a small employer would risk getting involved in litigation.

    1. AnOh*

      I’m in HR and have seen the questions/advice flying around the various forums/groups I’m part of regarding all the abortion travel benefits many companies are starting to announce. It feels very much like the type of decision that gets announced by CEOs and then it falls on Legal/HR/Admin to figure it out.
      I agree, that to do it right it should be done either in conjunction with the health/medical plan in place and/or via a Third Party. I think companies that would try to operate it in house would just be rife with legal considerations as you mentioned. But I’ve definitely noticed it’s the larger companies (with the capability to take on the financial/legal risk) are the ones saying they’ll offer these types of benefits.

  57. Sad Situation*

    As someone staring down the barrel of a potential termination for medical reasons (severe chromosomal abnormality, my health is not currently at risk), I appreciate the solidarity shown by the statements. But I hope that companies are backing it up with soliciting feedback from employees (a large portion ideally female) and the medical community to help inform the specifics of their policies and ensure that everyone is truly taken care of.

    For me personally, I will be saying as little as humanly possible about my situation to my boss. Neither she nor my coworkers even know I’m pregnant, and if I have to take time off I’m keeping the reason super vague. I am thankfully in a state where abortion is still an option up until around 22 weeks.

    1. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I am so sorry this is happening to you, and I wish you all the best outcomes and full healing.

    2. Rain's Small Hands*

      I am so very sorry and wish there was something, anything, that I could say that would make the least bit of difference – there is a stranger out here who is reading your message with tears.

  58. Minnow*

    Honestly I’d love if these companies, as well as publicising the fact that they will cover abortion -related expenses and leave, would also commit to covering maternity care costs and parental leave, including a decent chunk of paid leave. The fact that I have yet to see any company do so, coupled with the fact that at least one company has guaranteed abortion provision for non-unionised branches only, makes me think it’s less about reproductive rights and more about wanting their female employees to remain tied to the workforce at all costs.

    Even with local abortion bans, abortion remains far cheaper and easier than giving birth, not to mention raising a child, in every state.

    1. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Yes, was going to comment something very similar. It’s hard not to read it as somewhat self-serving on the part of some corporations who have issued a statement like this but then have basically no maternity leave to speak of.

    2. Rain's Small Hands*

      I don’t get tying abortion to motherhood or labor and delivery – or adoption either. They are separate decisions. They are separate medical procedures. The only thing they have in common is they are women’s health issues. And maternity leave isn’t even a health issue. Sure it would be great if we had better mandated maternity leave in the U.S. And it would be great if we subsidized daycare. And it would be great if we took the Equal Pay Act seriously and women actually got paid what they were worth. And every other woman’s issue – including issues that impact transwomen. But each of these is a separate issue. Taken together, its systemic misogyny….and part of fighting systemic misogyny is taking each win, and working towards the next one. A policy that helps people access their reproductive rights is a win. AND lets continue to fight for more access….AND fight for better maternity leave….AND fight for child care….AND fight for equal pay……

      1. Tuesday*

        Although they’re different circumstances, they’re the two “choices” available when someone says they’re pro-choice, right? So a company can posture itself as pro-choice for supporting abortion access, but those same companies offer little to no support if their employees choose to have the baby. It’s true that they’re different battles, but I can understand the frustration with companies using this to score points when the cost to them is very little compared to the cost of supporting the full range of a woman’s choice.

  59. YetAnotherAnalyst*

    This was actually one of several things the ERG at my company asked for – evidently one of the easier ones, since they committed to it pretty quickly. The reimbursement is handled through our medical insurance, so it works the same as submitting an out-of-network claim, and there’s no significant privacy issues.

    We already get some limited legal assistance through our EAP.

    We’ve had a much harder time pursuing other asks, like relocation assistance for employees who want to leave states where they’re in danger to work in one of our other offices, or a commitment to donation-matching for charities supporting reproductive rights.

  60. urguncle*

    I do want to lightly push back on the assumption that the “paying for your abortion care” necessitates talking to your boss or HR about your medical health. I live in a state that has expressly protected reproductive health, but the company I work for has a significant remote workforce across the US. They added a rider to our health insurance that covers travel costs for medical procedures. This removes them from the equation and still provides the (for now, hopefully) necessary services to those who live in more restrictive states.

  61. Baby, bathwater*

    “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”

    Nice. So what if we need jobs, too? /s

    1. still anon*

      Kinda like working for a Russian munitions factory. Yeah, your bills are paid, but you’re helping devastate other people.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s a pretty dramatic false equivalency. It’s like working anywhere in Russia when you know your government is doing bad things but people still need access to basic income and necessities.

        Except capitalism, so really nothing like that at all. The whole comparison is just incorrect.

  62. Decidedly Me*

    My company has a remote workforce – employment is not limited to specific states, so it’d be the employee that would need to move, not the company (which doesn’t have a physical office, but whose address is in a state that allows, and is expected to continue to allow, access to abortions). They have stated that travel will be reimbursed for procedures that are insurance covered, but not available in a person’s location – this includes, but is not limited to, abortions. I don’t think it’s a PR stunt at all. I’m not sure how one would go about getting this reimbursement, but I think I’ll ask now.

  63. BeenReading4Eva*

    “Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.”


  64. still anon*

    We’re at war. Even Russian people against the invasion of Ukraine are managing to leave Russia. Leave jobs, leave homes, leave family…Take a long look in the mirror and decide which side you support and act accordingly.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yes. Some have managed to do that. And some people are stuck in Russia and Ukraine fearing for their lives and their families everyday. Do not oversimplify this into a propaganda speech.

    2. Sylvan*

      I am not going to even consider leaving my family in order to prove my ideological purity.

      I am going to stay and try to make the place where I live better. What are you going to do? Judge from a distance? That’s fine, that’s probably nothing you weren’t doing before.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I find it so odd to think it’s so easy to uproot oneself. It’s financially, mentally, and physically pretty freaking tough. There are plenty of people in Russia who would love to pack up and leave but can’t for a variety of reasons. You gonna blame them if the worst happens to them? You think they could just leave if they have enough gumption?

  65. Zach*

    The company that I work for will pay for this and I think they went about it in a good way- we just have a catch-all “you can be reimbursed if you have to travel more than 100 miles for a medical procedure” benefit. Last week they emailed out reminding us about that and that it has been expanded to include reproductive health. As far as I know, when you request the reimbursement, you don’t necessarily need to say what the procedure was for, as what’s being reimbursed is your travel costs as opposed to the procedure itself (which falls under our normal, national insurance).

  66. Hoopa*

    Not just states. Companies that should pull out of countries that dont recognize a womans right to choose.

  67. Spreadsheets and Books*

    Out of curiosity, I checked our employee portal only to see a post (this was not emailed to us as far as I know) reiterating that our benefits include multiple trips a year with a per-trip cap and a per-year cap in the five figure range, and can be booked through Accolade vs contacting HR.

    I work for an employer where I truly believe this is something they would endorse (one of those names that pops up on diversity hiring and liberal companies lists), so it’s nice to see that this is an option and you can go through an employee portal to organize. But this is a huge company.

    I don’t believe it’s posturing in my job, but I do believe many companies are saying this just to say it.

  68. Enough*

    Re: ectopic pregnancies
    It has been reiterated by the Administration that you can go to your local hospital and get whatever treatment you need without issue.

  69. just another queer reader*

    Most of the employees covered by these policies are (relatively) high-income, with private health insurance and more flexible jobs. They are, largely, not the people who struggle to access abortion care.

    In addition to providing solid benefits (health insurance, sick time/ PTO, parental leave, etc) to employees, companies need to start caring about ALL their workers: the contractors, the janitors, the gig workers.

    It’s the ones who are already marginalized who need this support the most, and as far as I can see, companies have made no efforts to recognize that fact.

  70. Miller _ admin*

    The privacy issue is a problem with me. Don’s some of the abortion clinics require a screening appointment before they schedule the procedure? I cannot see a company paying for multiple trips; much less not holding it against the employee.

  71. Darcy Pennell*

    As somebody who works in repro (on the advocacy side, not as a provider) – I gotta push back on the statement that businesses should just leave states where abortion is illegal. This kind of “us vs. them” mentality is actively harmful to the people who live in states where abortion is criminalized. Even in states where abortion is still technically legal after the Dobbs ruling, there are plenty of hoops that abortion-seekers have to jump through in order to receive care (and this isn’t new – for millions of people in this country, Roe had already been dead for decades). Not to mention that the antis are going to push through a national ban as soon as they get the chance – the ruling affects all of us, no matter how blue a state you live in.
    The idea of boycotts or “just pack up and leave” gets thrown around a lot, but very frequently without consulting the folks actually working on the ground on these issues on what support they actually need and want. There are still lots of unknowns after Dobbs, and it’s going to take time for employers to figure out how to navigate this new landscape. But this simply ain’t it.

  72. StateWorker*

    The key is for emoyers to make sure it is covered in their healthcare plans without requiring pre-authorization. This model already exists as centers of excellence, which pay for travel to receive care at places that are the top ranked in their field. For public employees in NY this currently applies mostly to cancer treatments, paying for patients to travel to Dana Farber or Sloan Kettering for treatment. It’s not perfect because it’s reimbursement based, but it does eliminate the employer from the equation.

  73. Dr. Rivka*

    Abortion has already been significantly harder to get for low-income people and other disadvantaged folks, for years, because of all of the restrictions placed on the procedure (limiting clinics, imposing waiting periods, etc.). Now that’s even worse; wealthy people will always be able to fly to a pro-choice state and get themselves taken care of.

    These policies seem like they’ll contribute even further to unequal access to abortion. “Yeah, if you have a nice corporate job with a big national company, you’ll still be able to access care!” That – again – leaves people with the least privilege and resources out in the cold.

  74. Lifelong student*

    I did not read all the comments although I read many. I saw several which referred to transportation for health care being covered under the health plan. I must admit I have never seen that- although in recent years there have been some changes to cover transportation with the implication at least to me that it was designed to be to a local facility. I may well be wrong. I have never seen a health plan which seemed to say that it would cover lodging and per diems for out of area health care. If they exist, they must be uncommon.

    Which brings my question- as a tax geek- would those benefits, if not under a bona fide health plan be taxable to the recipient as income. Or not taxable to the employer as not reasonable and necessary business expenses? Bet there will be court cases on this.

  75. Melting HR Guru*

    We have the policy. You only have to tell HR you need to travel to X state and we will provide everything you need hotel airfare whatever. As HR we are bound by privacy. It is a stunt though because our state decreed it as legal. And I admit I am solo HR I can not imagine with a big HR how this would work

  76. Free Meerkats*

    And states are already working on putting laws in place to penalize companies for doing this. See

    From what I see, the only way to fight this is for companies to not only move out of those states, but stop providing services in those states (I’m looking at you, Amazon.) If the above law passes in Texas, the only ways for Amazon to protect itself from prosecution are to either: a. not provide the benefit they’ve committed themselves to providing, or b. stop doing business in the state. Would be a damned shame if Amazon closed all their fulfillment centers and warehouses and stopped selling to anyone with a Texas address overnight on the effective date of that law…

  77. me*

    Agreed. Disney is still a hugely wealthy company after everything is said and done. Corporations who are saying they will fly employees out for abortions should also put their money where their mouths are and put pressure on local lawmakers to prevent the need to fly anybody out. Anything less is just performative nonsense.

  78. Ginger Dynamo*

    I think I’d like to crack open that can of worms. There are a couple ways in which generalized access to abortive procedures is life-saving, and those ways are not well-reflected in a quick look through the current dossier of how many people each year undergo which kind of legalized abortion procedure. Even when abortion is criminalized, abortive procedures still happen. They happen in unsafe ways that notably increase maternal mortality statistics. The obvious example would be the back door arrangements reminiscent of the pre-Roe era. In the cases where abortive care is still permitted by law in states that have criminalized abortion (e.g. ectopic pregnancies or sepsis from withheld miscarriage), some doctors have delayed emergency care to consult with their legal teams first, getting the documentation in order before the time-sensitive procedure so as to avoid being arrested for saving their patients’ lives. Those increased wait-times can have disastrous results for the patients, who would otherwise be getting prompt care. And if the pregnancy or nonviable tissue is hazardous to the patient down the line but not immediately placing the patient in life-threatening danger? Doctors have their hands tied more now to wait until removal of the tissue is an emergent necessity, to avoid being accused of acting too soon or with insufficient cause, even if waiting for the patient’s prognosis to worsen places the patient’s health at significant if not life-threatening risk. One 2021 Demography study I’ll link estimates a 21% increased maternal mortality rate in states criminalizing abortion if all those seeking abortion were to remain pregnant. This estimate is based on a flat rate of maternal mortality not altered to account for aborted pregnancies possibly being higher-risk, and it excludes any mortality resulting from unsafe abortions sought outside of licensed medical practice, so that estimate may even be a low-ball.

  79. norseboar*

    > Ultimately, if employers want to protect their employees, they need to take their business out of states that are removing bodily autonomy for half their population.

    A lot of these big employers are doing nation-wide searches, and support full remote work. They could e.g. stop accepting applicants from Texas, but…that seems like it mostly hurts the otherwise-eligible job candidates who live in Texas, who have a hard time moving out?

    The “we’ll cover expenses to go to another state for an abortion” thing definitely seems logistically hard, and maybe most people won’t take them up on it, but it seems strictly better than “we won’t hire people from those states in the first place”. Now, in addition to not being able to get an abortion, people living in those states won’t be able to get jobs w/ these sorts of national corporations either. It seems like it’s hurting individuals for the sake of a political statement.

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