Yelp and others offer travel benefit for abortions

STORY: As the U.S. grapples with the likely end of Roe v. Wade, a small…

STORY: As the U.S. grapples with the likely end of Roe v. Wade, a small but growing number of companies – like Yelp, Amazon, Citigroup and Levi Strauss – are pledging to cover costs of American employees who need to travel out of state for an abortion.

Yelp’s chief diversity officer, Miriam Warren, said the decision was made to ensure its workers have equal access to healthcare.

“Well, abortion has always been a covered benefit in our health care plan. And when restrictive abortion bans like Texas’s (bill) SB 8 came to pass, we recognized that in order to provide equal access to care for all of our employees, we would have to do more. And that more really looks like a travel benefit, so that if someone is in a state where they can’t access the reproductive health care that they need, they can go to another state to get it. And we will reimburse the travel costs, including hotel and other associated costs.”

And it could become a much-needed reimbursement… especially in light of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicating the court is poised to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

WARREN: “I think it becomes all that more important for companies to step in and make sure that they’re taking care of their employees. And, you know, this particular issue is an equity issue because it impacts women’s careers and their lives in a big way.”

Other major employers, such as Walmart, Target and Walt Disney, have declined to weigh in.

Some companies could be fearful of a growing trend among Republican lawmakers to punish them for taking a stand on social issues.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill in April stripping Disney of self-governing authority at its Orlando-area parks in retaliation for its opposition to a new state law that limits the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools.

And dozens of House Republicans recently demanded that the chamber drop Citigroup as its provider of credit cards, after the financial institution offered to pay travel costs for employees seeking abortions.

The issue has gained urgency now that 31 states have introduced abortion bans this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

By offering support for employees who may need to travel out of state for abortions, Yelp and other companies hope to gain an edge attracting and retaining talent… as well as appearing socially responsible to investors.

“I think that for companies who care about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging, they can’t sit by and be silent on this issue because it really does impact every aspect of a woman’s life.”