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The Margin: Microsoft, Tesla to cover abortion travel costs...
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The Margin: Microsoft, Tesla to cover abortion travel costs for employees, joining Amazon and Yelp

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Microsoft MSFT, +1.29% and Tesla TSLA, +0.02% are the latest companies offering to reimburse its employees for travel expenses when they seek reproductive care in other states, including abortion.

The car maker revealed in its 2021 “Impact Report” released Friday that it expanded its health insurance offerings last year to include “travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state.”

Several major companies, including Citigroup, Yelp, Lyft, Levi’s, and Amazon, have also announced that they would cover travel expenses for workers with limited access to safe abortion procedures in their home states. This comes after several states, including Texas and Oklahoma, passed restrictive abortion laws in recent years. Tesla moved its corporate headquarters from Silicon Valley to Texas last year.

And Tesla’s announcement came the same week that a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in 1973. This has spurred questions about what happens next, including which states (and countries) would still allow abortion, as well as which states would “trigger” a ban on abortion if the ruling is overturned.

See also: What percentage of Americans support Roe v. Wade? How Americans really feel about abortion, according to polls

In fact, “Can you travel to another state for an abortion?” was a breakout Google search in the day following the leaked Roe v. Wade draft opinion, which means the search term spiked by more than 5,000%.

But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has also introduced a bill that would prevent companies from getting tax breaks for reimbursing the travel costs of their employees seeking certain reproductive care in other states. This includes abortion, and it would also limit certain medical care for transgender minors.

“Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life,” Rubio said in a statement announcing the No Tax Breaks for Radical Corporate Activism bill. “Instead, too often our corporations find loopholes to subsidize the murder of unborn babies or horrific ‘medical’ treatments on kids. My bill would make sure this does not happen.”

Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain, a Republican, has said he would propose legislation barring local governments in the state from doing business with any company that provides travel benefits for employees seeking abortions.

These are some of the companies that have said they will cover travel costs for their employees seeking abortions, and how much some of them will reimburse.

Microsoft

Microsoft says it will “continue to do everything we can under the law to protect our employees’ rights and support employees” in accessing critical healthcare. Those protections includes services like abortion and gender-affirming care, in the U.S., a Microsoft official told Reuters.

“This support is being extended to include travel expense assistance for these and other medical services where access to care is limited in availability in an employee’s home geographic region,” the statement continued.

Tesla

The “People and Culture” portion of Tesla’s newly released 2021 Impact Report notes that the company wants its benefits to exceed the standards of the manufacturing industry. And that includes an expanded Safety Net program and health insurance offering that covers travel and lodging support for Tesla employees “who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state.”

See also: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says ‘crypto is going through the lull that the internet went through’

While CEO Elon Musk did not immediately comment, he tweeted in September that he believes “government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

Amazon

On Monday prior to the Supreme Court leak, Amazon AMZN, -0.23% told staff that the company will cover travel expenses for all non-life-threatening medical treatments, including abortions. The e-commerce giant, which is the second-largest private employer in the U.S. behind Walmart WMT, -1.53%, said it will reimburse up to $4,000 per year for such expenses.

The new benefit is effective retroactively to Jan. 1, and applies when the procedure is unavailable within 100 miles of the employee’s home, and virtual care is not possible. It is open to U.S. employees (including warehouse and office workers) or covered dependents enrolled in Premera or Aetna health plans.

Citigroup

Citigroup C, -3.02% also began covering travel expenses earlier this year for U.S. employees forced to go out of state for abortions. About 8,500 of the banking giant’s 65,000 U.S. employees are in Texas, which has banned abortions in the state after about six weeks of pregnancy.

“In response to changes in reproductive health care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” the company said in an April filing.

DoorDash

DoorDash DASH, -0.75% also said it will begin covering travel expenses for abortion procedures after the Supreme Court document was leaked.

“It’s paramount that all DoorDash employees and their dependents covered on our health plans have access to safe, timely healthcare. This is one of our guiding principles as an employer,” a DoorDash spokesperson told MarketWatch. “Because safe abortion procedures may become severely limited in more states, DoorDash will cover certain travel-related expenses for employees who face new barriers to access and need to travel out of state for abortion-related care.”

Levi Strauss

Clothing-maker Levi Strauss LEVI, -2.20% announced Wednesday that the company will also cover travel costs for medical procedures that cannot be performed in the state their employees are in, which includes abortion.

The company says employees are “eligible for reimbursement for healthcare-related travel expenses for services not available in their home state, including those related to reproductive health care and abortion.”

Levi Strauss also noted that its employees are particularly impacted by the issue of reproductive rights, as 58% of the company’s global workforce is female. “Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees,” the company added in its announcement. “That means protecting reproductive rights.” 

Yelp

Yelp YELP, -3.41%, the crowd-sourced reviews platform, will cover travel expenses for both employees and their dependents who need to go out-of-state for abortions. Yelp has 4,000 employees, including 200 workers in Texas.

Yelp employees can submit the receipts for their travel expenses directly to their health insurance company, so “no one else at Yelp is ever going to know who is accessing this, or how or when, and it will be a reimbursement that comes through the insurance provider directly,” Yelp’s chief diversity officer, Miriam Warren, said in April.

See also: Google searches for Plan B pills surged as people fear future of abortion rights. But will the ‘morning-after pill’ be enough in a post-Roe world?

“We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s healthcare rights are restricted,” Warren also said in a statement at the time.

Other ways companies are supporting abortion access

Ride-sharing service Lyft LYFT, -0.11% announced in April that it will pay any legal fees for its drivers if they are sued for bringing women to clinics to receive abortions, which came as a result of the strict anti-abortion bills in Oklahoma and Texas. The Oklahoma bill, for example, would allow a person to sue another individual who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”

See also: Tom Brady will join Fox Sports as lead NFL analyst when he retires from playing

“This law is incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company,” Lyft wrote in a blog post.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of competitor Uber UBER, +0.61%, tweeted that his company would support its drivers in the same way.

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In 2021, Texas-based dating-app company Bumble, which prides itself on being women-founded and women-led, created a relief fund supporting the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in the state.

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And Match.com’s MTCH, -2.56% CEO Shar Dubey (not the company itself) also created a fund to help Match employees in Texas to seek abortions outside the state at around the same time.

See also: We don’t know who the Roe v. Wade leaker is. But the organized, focused and well-funded Republicans may have just won again

Salesforce CRM, +1.13% CEO Marc Benioff also said in 2021 that the company would cover relocation costs for its Texas employees impacted by the state’s restrictive abortion laws.

“If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family,” a Salesforce company memo stated.

The bill introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio would prevent employers who offer to cover workers’ travel expenses from deducting these expenses from their taxes. An earlier version of this article misstated the wording of the bill.

Source: MarketWatch.com

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