Disney, other US companies offer abortion travel benefit after Roe . decision

NEW YORK, June 24 (Reuters) – US companies including Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) said Friday they will cover workers’ costs if they have to travel for abortion services after The US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday overturned the landmark 1973 ruling that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, awarding a momentous victory to Republicans and religious conservatives seeking to restrict or ban the procedure and, in some states, criminalize the procedure. read more

Many states are expected to further restrict or ban abortions after the ruling, making it difficult for female workers to terminate pregnancies unless they travel to states where the procedure is allowed.

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In Oklahoma, for example, a law due to go into effect in August prohibits abortion except in medical emergencies, and punishes health care providers who break the law with up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years in prison. States that provide abortion protection are New York and Maryland. read more

Disney told employees Friday that it remains committed to providing comprehensive access to quality health care, including abortions, a Disney spokesperson said. read more

The company’s benefits will cover the costs of employees having to travel to another location to access care, including getting an abortion, it said.

Meta will reimburse travel expenses for employees seeking out-of-state reproductive care, but the company was also “assessing how best to do this given the legal complexity,” a spokesperson said.

Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS.N) Chief Executive Lauren Hobart said on LinkedIn the company would pay for up to $4,000 in travel for employees or their relatives and a support person if abortion was not available nearby.

Companies that provide reimbursement for abortion-related travel may be vulnerable to lawsuits from anti-abortion groups and Republican-led states, and even possible criminal penalties.

Lawyers and other experts said employers could face claims that their policies violate state laws that prohibit, facilitate, or aid and encourage abortion.

Ride hailing company Lyft (LYFT.O) said it would legally protect drivers in abortion cases, and said it would expand a recent policy as new state laws were passed. “No driver should ask a rider where they are going and why,” said a spokesman.

In May, a draft of the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion was leaked. At the time, many other companies, including online review site Yelp (YELP.N), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), and Tesla (TSLA.O), said they would help cover travel costs for employees seeking reproductive services. Apple (AAPL.O) reiterated that it supports workers in making their own reproductive health decisions and that health care covers travel for services not available nearby.

Yelp co-founder and Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman said Friday the ruling “endangers women’s health, deprives them of their human rights and threatens to dismantle the progress we’ve made since Roe on gender equality in the workplace.”

Alaska Air Group (ALK.N), the parent company of Alaska Airlines, said Friday that it will “pay for travel expenses for certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live. Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change that.”

Other companies offering the benefit include Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), online dating sites OkCupid and Bumble Inc (BMBL.O), Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the largest bank in the country. † read more

OkCupid sent in-app messages to customers in 26 states likely to ban abortion in preparation for a political fight. “Respond now by calling your representatives and demanding freedom and choice,” said a copy of the message tweeted by OkCupid Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Hobley.

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Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru, Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles, Doyinsola Oladipo and Daniel Wiessner in New York and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Anna Driver; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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