US companies face attacks on abortion rights

After decades of carefully avoiding this taboo topic, more and more American companies are taking a stance in favor of the right to abortion, a sign of the emergence of a new generation with different expectations.

It was only hours after the leak that announced the Supreme Court’s possible turnaround on the issue of abortion before part of the US economy reacted publicly.

“Knowing what’s at stake, business leaders must speak up and take action to protect the health and well-being of our employeesLevi Strauss officials wrote. “That includes protecting reproductive rights.”

Like the famous jeans manufacturer, Apple is committed to covering the costs of its employees who have to travel to another state to perform a voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG).

Companies, forced to sputter

Return to the right to abortion “would endanger the rights of millions of women”told AFP the participatory search platform Yelp, which refers to “an earthquake for our society and our economy” and calls on companies to “initiate”

Since a new law came into effect in Texas in September reduce the deadline for performing an abortion to six weeksbreaking the taboo and Amazon, Uber or even the bank Citigroup have all announced that they will bear the extra costs that this text can cause for their employees.

“We live in unusual times politically and this issue has once again become paramount, which will force companies to come forward.”

Maurice Schweitzer, professor at Wharton University of Pennsylvania

“Companies based in states that could go back (on access to abortion) have to decide whether or not to cover the associated costs (…), this therefore forces them to position themselves de facto”says Neeru Paharia, a professor at Georgetown University.

According to New York TimesTesla, which has just moved its headquarters from California to Texas, has agreed to reimburse these costs.

A matter of generation

The new brutality of some US companies is also related to the fact that: “in this country there are more people for (of the right to abortion) than those who are against it”remembers Neeru Paharia.

Registering Listings of Several Leading Companies “in a general trend” working for about ten years and which “has really grown in the Trump era”she points out.

Immigration, rights of the LGBTQ+ community, gun laws, the “Black Lives Matter” movement, access to the right to vote… Controversial topics followed one another in an exacerbated climate of polarizationand many companies were pressured by some of their employees to respond.

“It’s a matter of generation”explains Mark Hass, a professor at Arizona State University. “Millennials, Gen Z (born since the late 1990s) are increasingly concerned about the values ​​of their company.”

“Apple, Amazon or Uber want the best professionals”he continues, “In this way, their employees serve as a kind of compass for them.”

“The labor market is tight and some qualifications are hard to find”, adds Neeru Paharia. Employer expectations have also risen, she said, in a country where trust in the political system has been eroding for years.

Escape the recoil

Maurice Schweitzer distinguishes between the flagships of the new economy, whose employees are above average skilled and often able to work anywhere, and more traditional companies, sometimes located in more conservative regions.

The latter often have less mobile and less qualified employees, whose influence on their employer is often more limited.

“This is an important reason why, for example, tech companies move” about abortion he said: “while others will try to stay away.”

Unlike some previous ones, companies that have publicly sided have largely escaped backlash (calls for boycott or smear campaigns).

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has introduced a bill to prevent companies from taking tax breaks on their abortion travel expenses, but it has little chance of success.

“People who want to limit access to abortion are in a minority and now seem to be gaining victories”analyzes Maurice Schweitzer. “So I’m not surprised that (the Tories) are pretty quiet.”


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