Should abortion be a business problem?

The threat of reversing Roe v. Wade — which would allow states to ban abortion — has immediate ramifications in the US. unsuccessfully tried to pass federal legislation guaranteeing the right to abortion and people protested the impending threat across the country. Twenty-six states are confident or will ban the proceedings if Roe is impeached, according to research organization the Guttmacher Institute. (The court’s decision is not final, but a published opinion is expected this month.)

Many companies also spoke out quickly. Some workplaces said they would cover workers’ costs if they had to travel to a state that allows abortion, and others, such as Lyft and H&M, signed a petition against restricting access to reproductive care. Amazon said the staff will reimburse up to US$4,000 in travel costs if abortion services are not available in their home state. Denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. issued a statement stating that employees can reimburse health-related travel expenses for services, including abortion, that are not available in their home state. Apple also said it would cover abortion-related travel costs.

While US companies may not have wanted to comment on abortion before the leak, the current circumstances left them little choice, says Jennifer Reynolds, CEO of Women Corporate Directors, a member group for female directors. worldwide, with headquarters in Florida. “When governments get in the way of women’s health, it’s encouraging to see companies taking a stance on this issue,” Reynolds said.

In addition, it can be a smart business move to think along about social and political issues. About 61 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a Pew report, and an Army poll found that about four out of five Canadians support women’s right to abortion. With labor shortages in both the US and Canada, it can become increasingly difficult to attract – or retain – talent without addressing a problem that affects about half of the workforce. Abortion has become a business consideration for many workplaces as it appeals to job seekers to offer a benefits package that provides women with a full range of health care options. “I don’t think people want to reveal that they need time off for an abortion, frankly – their privacy would be invaded – so I think companies should have health benefits packages that give people time off, whether it’s for an abortion or any other medical procedure,” Reynolds says.

In Canada, there are no federal provisions in the labor law to release women for abortion. Instead, people often resort to sick days, of which only 10 are mandatory per year. But recently, the United Conservative Party introduced Bill 17 in Alberta, which allows workers to take bereavement leave when a “pregnancy ends differently than in a live birth” — including abortion. (Under the bill, employers are only required to give three days of unpaid leave if an employee wants time off for an abortion.)

Currently, the costs of an abortion are largely covered by the provincial health care system, but if someone has to go abroad for an abortion, those costs are not covered by their own province. And while abortion is decriminalized in Canada, access isn’t equal across the country: In Prince Edward Island, procedures performed in private clinics are not covered by the province, and abortions aren’t available to those more than 12 weeks and 6 days pregnant. . In New Brunswick, out-of-hospital abortions are also not funded by the government and there are only three hospitals in the province that offer the service.

The impact of companies taking steps

Sarah Biggs, a partner at Olsen & Biggs Public Affairs who was part of the lobbying effort for Bill 17, emphasizes that marginalized people, those in rural areas, and those working in industries with precarious labor standards do not have the economic luxury of taking unpaid free days if they need an abortion. Outside of government intervention, Biggs says workplaces should offer more days of mourning — which could be used for abortion — to level the playing field. “Employers should be encouraged to offer paid days off as it would help with inequality. It would also help cover costs and ease financial pressures by taking time off work,” says Biggs.

Jill Doctoroff, executive director of the National Abortion Federation Canada, also advocates comprehensive health benefits that cover abortion-related costs, such as time off, for out-of-province abortions. She says this is one of the best ways companies can show their support for reproductive rights. “In society, we all have a role to play in ensuring that people have access to abortion care, including businesses.”

Cost is, of course, a factor as companies expand their benefit packages to include more sick days or paid abortion leave. Larger organizations can afford to offer more robust benefit plans to employees, while paying in benefit packages is often more expensive for smaller companies because of the economies of scale, Reynolds says. “The smaller you are, the more expensive it will be to provide those benefits.”

That said, workplaces – large or small – can view benefits packages as a way to retain employees beyond pay increases and show they are valued in an organization. “It becomes a decision about what kind of culture workplaces want to have,” Reynolds says.

In the U.S., Cary Franklin, faculty director of the Center for Reproductive Health, Law and Policy at UCLA Law, says that while some U.S. companies offer insurance plans that cover abortion, individual workplaces that expand benefits packages don’t resolve abortion rights. It will also put on the table the socioeconomic issue of who has access to abortion: University of California research shows a link between poverty and access to abortion, showing that women who have difficult access to abortion are more likely to have an abortion. low income . Franklin says that while companies that help cover abortion costs are helpful to some, marginalized women, including those without benefits or job security, are still lagging behind.

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