Ways Employers Are Helping Employees Access Abortions Across State Lines

The proposed reversal of Roe v. Wade has caused many employers to expand support for workers seeking abortions.

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Ways Employers Are Helping Employees Access Abortions
Regardless of personal beliefs, there are important areas employers should consider if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Here's what you need to know:

  • Companies are providing travel expense reimbursements for employees that need to go out of state for an abortion
  • Some employers choose health plans that cover abortion regardless of the participant’s residence
  • Companies are also helping their employees relocate by offering a stipend
  • Others are creating general reproductive health relief funds to help cover any expenses incurred
  • Another way companies are supporting employees is by providing legal assistance to help fight off the costs of abortion access

On Monday, May 2nd, 2022, a draft decision about overturning Roe v. Wade from the Supreme Court was leaked. As a result, just about everyone has expressed opinions about reproductive healthcare and women’s rights. The conversation can be just as charged for employers, and how this will affect business is murky at best.

There are 3 main issues that an employer could consider with the potential ruling, regardless of their personal beliefs.

What to consider

First, an employer should explore what this means for their current health insurance benefits plans, especially if they have employees nationwide.

Questions they should think through are:

  • Will their health plan premiums increase or decrease based on the location of their employees?
  • What will actually be covered as abortion access?
  • Would pregnant employees in a state where abortion is illegal to be able to cross borders and complete the procedure in another state?

Next, there’s the concern about potential legal issues and legal fees. For example, if a national and multi-state company offers abortion coverage but happens to have an office in a state where abortion is illegal, would the company be open to local lawsuits?

Finally, there’s the issue of turnover. A lack of access to reproductive healthcare can translate into fewer women in the workplace. But even if a company offers comprehensive PTO for maternity leave and remote work, what happens if top talent can no longer work due to pregnancy complications or lack of healthcare access?

There are several worst-case scenarios that an employer should consider for their employees’ safety, statewide compliance, and essential healthcare benefits.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s discuss the decision and what counts as abortion access.

The Supreme Court decision in a nutshell

The Supreme Court draft indicates its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which federally protects a woman’s right to abortion. As a result, whether or not an individual will have abortion access hinges on their home state. An employee living in Texas, for example, would face higher abortion restrictions than an employee in Colorado.

Furthermore, whether or not an employer can assist an employee in bypassing local abortion restrictions through travel will also depend on the state. For example, Missouri has introduced legislation that seeks to allow private citizens to sue anyone helping a Missouri resident get an abortion out of state.

To make matters more confusing, every state has its own restrictions on every aspect of abortion, from telemedicine and mailing abortion pills to emergency procedures.

Insurance providers also have their range of coverage, sometimes influenced by state law. This vast difference in coverage means that healthcare providers are likely to update their plans regarding abortion in the near future.

every state has its own restrictions on every aspect of abortion, from telemedicine and mailing abortion pills to emergency procedures.

What counts as abortion access?

There are 2 types of abortion. Depending on the state and healthcare provider, some or none of these variations may be covered. The different types of abortion care are:

  • The abortion pill
  • Surgical abortion

The abortion pill is the most commonly used out of these 2 methods.

It’s important to note that some individuals may require time and additional assistance to recover from having an abortion, especially if the procedure took place in a life-or-death scenario.

What states would make abortion illegal?

At the time of writing, these are the following abortion restrictions per state, according to the Guttmacher Institute:

  • Banned, Except in the cases of life/health endangerment at:
    • Viability
      • Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
    • 6 weeks
      • Texas
    • 20 weeks
      • Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming
    • 24 weeks
      • Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, Pennsylvania
    • 3rd trimester
      • Virginia
  • Partial-Birth Abortion is fully banned in:
    • Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
  • Restrictions on private insurance coverage in:
    • Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.
  • Providers may refuse abortion coverage in every state except Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia.
  • Mandatory counseling is required in:
    • Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
  • States that include a mandatory waiting period after counseling are:
    • Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

What companies are providing abortion coverage?

Some of the companies offering access to abortion rights are Tesla, Alloy, Amazon, Apple, Citigroup, Salesforce, Yelp, Uber, Lyft, Bospar, Match Group, Bumble, Dell, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, and Lush.

The most popular and clearcut way companies assist their employees in gaining abortion access is through travel expense reimbursements. Many, however, are also looking at their health plans.

5 ways employers are helping employees access abortions

The fact of the matter is that we still don’t know how this decision will affect employers and employees. Health insurance plans and local reproductive healthcare laws are still changing. And the world looks much different from when Roe v. Wade first came into effect in 1973. But there are still options for employers who believe that abortion coverage is a right.

The companies currently providing coverage to counter the proposed ruling give insight into how organizations can offer abortion access.

1. Travel expense reimbursements

Considering the fact that many local laws regarding reproductive healthcare for women are still in flux, many companies are opting to provide travel expense reimbursements for employees that need to go out of state for an abortion. This effort provides a discreet reason for travel, protects the privacy of the worker, and helps them to shoulder the cost of the procedure.

2. Healthcare coverage

Another option is for companies to review their healthcare coverage. Depending on the state, health insurance plans may have changed. Certain providers may not be open to covering a procedure, even if performed out of state. Some employers choose plans that cover abortion regardless of the participant’s home residence.

3. Relocation stipend

While typically more expensive, some companies opt to help their employees relocate by offering a stipend. Bospar, in particular, provides $10,000 in cash to employees looking to leave Texas due to its recent abortion restrictions. Salesforce also told its workforce that it will help relocate employees and members of their immediate family if they can’t access reproductive healthcare in their state.

4. Relief funds

Other companies, such as Bumble and Match Group, have decided to create a general reproductive health relief fund to help cover any expenses incurred. This may be useful for employers where abortion is only partially banned.

5. Legal support

Finally, another avenue of support is providing legal aid and support to employees. Some states may allow a private citizen to sue another if they suspect an out-of-state abortion has taken place. Providing legal assistance can help individuals fight off the costs of abortion access.

Benefits for employees outside of abortion access

Employers who work in states with significant abortion restrictions — and feel unable to provide abortion access — can revisit their general benefits packages.

Employers who work in states with significant abortion restrictions — and feel unable to provide abortion access — can revisit their general benefits packages. For example, you may want to introduce maternity leave, offer paternity leave, extend healthcare benefits to cover an employee’s entire family, provide education assistance, or cover childcare expenses.

More on supporting your workers

Women are an essential part of the workforce. No matter how the laws shift and change, it’s important to support your top talent. Learn more about how you can foster inclusion and be there for your employees in our guide to diversity and inclusion.

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