Yelp will cover expenses for employees and their dependents who need to travel out-of-state for abortion access, the company announced Tuesday. It joins companies like Citigroup, Apple, Match Group and Bumble in expanding coverage for abortion after Texas' law came into effect.
The Texas law, which bans abortions after six weeks, went into effect Sept.1. The law also encourages private citizens to sue anyone who "aids or abets" a forbidden abortion. It prompted tech companies to consider their responsibilities to Texas-based employees seeking abortions, but also to employees who might be accused of "aiding and abetting" an abortion: For example, an Uber driver giving a ride to the abortion clinic. Lyft and Uber eventually announced they will cover drivers' legal fees if they're sued under the Texas law. Match Group and Bumble (based in Texas) told Protocol at the time that they were setting up relief funds for people impacted by the law.
Six months later, women in Texas have turned to self-managed abortions and flooded clinics outside the state. The Florida legislature recently passed its own law banning abortions after 15 weeks, and Oklahoma's governor signed a near-total abortion ban into law on Tuesday.
Yelp's Chief Diversity Officer Miriam Warren told the Wall Street Journal that the insurance expansion is in response to the Texas law, which she said limits equality. "When we’re talking about women’s advancement in their careers, trying to diversify boardrooms to see more women in them, and you look at these restrictions, they are absolutely intertwined in a way that I think is very damaging,” Warren said.
Yelp's policy, which currently covers abortion care, goes into effect next month. The San Francisco-based company has a little over 200 employees in Texas, but will be relevant to employees in other states as more restrictive legislation is passed. Citigroup announced its plan to cover travel costs in a regulatory filing last month; one of the first companies to do so. A Texas lawmaker subsequently threatened Citigroup with legislation preventing the bank from underwriting municipal bonds in the state. Warren told The New York Times that Yelp is not concerned about potential backlash. Rather, she thinks the policy will help Yelp build an inclusive culture. "We want to be able to recruit and retain employees wherever they might be living,” she said.