Tech companies are grappling with employee access to abortions

Abortion care is about to become a critical tech company health insurance issue.

The front façade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.

Health and work are inextricably tied in the U.S.

Photo: Ian Hutchinson/Unsplash

This isn’t the first time tech leaders have been forced to think about abortion rights. Companies that took part in the “Texodus” have been weighing their responsibilities to employees seeking abortion since Texas passed a ban on abortion after six weeks in September 2021. But if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will likely be banned in 26 states, greatly expanding the scope of companies and workers who will be impacted, despite the fact that many polls find that most Americans want Roe to be upheld.

POLITICO released a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Monday indicating the court will vote to strike down Roe v. Wade. Undoing Roe would deal abortion access a devastating blow, and in the past few days, the draft has prompted tremendous concern about public health and digital surveillance. At a basic level, overturning Roe kicks decisions on abortion to the state and corporate level.

“In one fell swoop, this ruling not only can move decisions to states and municipalities, it moves it to corporations,” said Renee Morgan, social justice director at financial activism firm Adasina Social Capital. “Every corporation should be against this ruling that has been leaked.”

Health and work are inextricably tied in the U.S.: Workers are reliant on how companies define and select their health care policies. To be clear, low-income people are in a far worse position than corporate tech workers when it comes to abortion access. But tech companies wield an enormous amount of power and money. How they choose to respond, either by expanding health care reimbursement or even ceasing operations in a restrictive state, may set the tone for other industries.

Deciding what to do about abortion coverage

Most big tech companies choose to self-insure their health care, allowing them the flexibility to design employee health plans. They won’t be impacted by state laws limiting insurance coverage of abortion because they fund their own plans. But covering abortion in your health care plan doesn’t mean much if employees physically cannot receive one in their state. Covering abortion-related travel is the real question for companies.

Lately, a growing number of tech companies have decided to expand coverage by reimbursing employees for abortion-related travel. Last month, Yelp announced it would cover expenses for employees and their dependents who need to travel out-of-state for abortion access. Citigroup, Apple, Match Group and Bumble have similar policies. Most recently, Amazon announced it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses for procedures including abortions.

Employee benefits consultant Jessica Du Bois pointed out that large companies may be the only ones willing to take this step because of the legal risk. Citigroup has already been threatened on a federal level as well as by lawmakers in Texas, and could be sued because of the “aiding and abetting” clause in Texas’ abortion law.

“We are only going to see these large companies speak out,” said Du Bois. “Some of these mid-sized, smaller companies are going to wait it out to see what happens legally.”

It’s easier to commit to covering travel costs when abortion is restricted in a handful of states. But if Roe is overturned, over half of the states will be impacted. Du Bois said the best move for employers is to provide employees with a list of high-quality, lower-cost facilities in their area. Individualizing care on this level helps save money in the long run.

“Smart employers should be navigating or directing employees to those facilities and say, ‘Hey, we’ll pay for it at this facility,’” Du Bois said.

It’s also a good time to revisit how you cover abortion in general. Eliminating qualifications or criteria is critical in expanding abortion access for employees, according to Morgan.

“You provide abortion benefits in full, or you don't have abortion benefits,” Morgan said.

Mass exodus

If Roe is overturned, companies might be inspired to help employees evacuate permanently. Figma CEO Dylan Field tweeted an internal Slack message saying the company will “provide relocation assistance to any US employee who feels targeted or unsafe due to changes in state law.” Marc Benioff also used Twitter to signify his support for employees in Texas back in September, promising to help them leave after the state passed its restrictive abortion law. Salesforce did not respond to Protocol’s request for comment, so it’s unclear if any employees took the company up on its offer.

It’s too soon to tell whether company relocation is a real option for tech companies more broadly. Abandoning business in a state can be a powerful statement, though the political impacts are unclear and the economic impacts are controversial. Texas Monthly reported in October that there were “no signs yet of a tech Texodus”. While some more liberal-leaning tech workers might individually decide to leave, it’s unlikely that a company’s entire workforce will up and relocate.

“There are very few companies that can just pack up and leave within a year,” Megan McHugh, a medical professor and corporate social responsibility expert at Northwestern University, said. “I think the threat is potentially all that may be needed for states to reconsider.”

And some may not see the need to take any action based on abortion restrictions. While Hewlett Packard Enterprise (based in Texas) covers out-of-state medical expenses including abortion, spokesperson Adam Bauer said the company has never taken a position on abortion. HPE has no plans to leave Texas, Bauer confirmed.

Other tech companies are reluctant to commit to a strategy based on a draft decision. Dell told Protocol it would not comment on a draft opinion, and that its focus is on its “team members and supporting them with the benefits they need.” Match Group also offered no comment. Apple, Paycor, and a score of other tech companies with significant presences in restrictive states did not respond to requests for comment. Companies like Yelp and Bumble condemned the draft opinion and reiterated the belief in a right to choose, but did not answer specific questions.

The role of company culture

Recruitment and retention might be a key motivator for offering relocation options, particularly for companies looking to diversify their workforce. Candidates may not want to work for companies that don’t make up for the gap in health care left by politicians. They may not want to work in a state with laws that limit their freedoms or laws that they fundamentally don’t believe in.

“Millenials and Gen Zs right now are a real target for the tech industry,” said Yuvay Ferguson, a marketing professor at Howard University. “Gen Z is notorious from a consumer behavior standpoint for not picking companies just because they provide money: They're picking companies more so because they find a value alignment.”

Even with unqualified abortion access and travel reimbursements, some people might be unwilling to disclose their abortion procedure with their employer. McHugh said covering abortion costs is a reasonable first step, but isn’t enough on its own.

“My concern is that if a woman is going to have an abortion, she's not going to necessarily want to submit a reimbursement claim through her employer,” McHugh said.

Ferguson echoed this, noting that employees want to work for companies that line up with their set of values. If you’re looking to expand employee access to abortions, considering how you talk about abortion and the openness of your company culture is important.

“You’re going to start hearing stories of people waving the red flag and saying, ‘Hey, women, don’t come to this company,’” Ferguson said.


An IPO may soon be in Notion’s future

Notion COO Akshay Kothari says there’s room to grow, aided by a new CFO who knows how to take a company public.

Notion has hired its first chief financial officer: Rama Katkar.

Photo: Courtesy of Notion

It’s been a year since Notion’s triumphant $275 million funding round and $10 billion valuation. Since then the landscape for productivity startups trying to make it on their own has completely changed, especially for those pandemic darlings that flourished in the all-remote world.

As recession looms, companies looking to cut costs are less likely to spend money on tools outside of their Microsoft or Google workplace bundles. Enterprise platforms are bulking up and it could spell trouble for the productivity startups trying to unseat them. But Notion COO Akshay Kothari says the company is still aiming to build the next Microsoft, not be the next Microsoft. And in a move signaling a new chapter of maturity, Notion has hired its first chief financial officer: Rama Katkar, Instacart’s former VP of finance.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Securing the Enterprise

Securing the enterprise

There’s no let-up in the surge of cyberattacks against businesses. But shutting down the hackers will require many enterprises to evolve their strategy.

In today’s enterprise, “identity and security are very merged.”

Illustration: iStock/Getty Images Plus; Protocol
the Protocol team
Protocol focuses on the people, power and politics of tech, with no agenda and just one goal: to arm decision-makers in tech, business and public policy with the unbiased, fact-based news and analysis they need to navigate a world in rapid change.

How neobanks are helping consumers game credit scoring

The CFPB says it is closely monitoring secured credit cards offered by neobanks.

Regulators are scrutinizing neobanks' card offerings.

Photo: Oscar Wong/Moment/Getty Images

About one in six Americans has a credit score below 619, according to the CFPB. Another 23% have too thin a credit file to score or no file at all. That puts them in a credit trap: To build credit, these consumers need someone to give them a line of credit with which they can demonstrate good financial habits. But with scores that low, few lenders are prepared to offer them anything.

Neobanks say they can solve the problem through a new twist on secured credit cards. But regulators are already scrutinizing their offerings.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.


Steel decided World War II. Chips will decide whatever is next.

“Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology” foreshadows the coming battle between nations over semiconductors.

“Chip War” outlines the nature of the coming battle over semiconductors, showing how the power to produce leading-edge chips fell into the hands of just five companies.

Image: Scribner; Protocol

“World War II was decided by steel and aluminum, and followed shortly thereafter by the Cold War, which was defined by atomic weapons,” Chris Miller, a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, writes in the introduction to his latest book. So what’s next? According to Miller, the next era, including the rivalry between the U.S. and China, is all about computing power.

That tech rivalry and the story of how the chip industry got from four to 11.8 billion transistors are all part of Miller’s book, “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology,” which comes out Oct. 4. “Chip War” outlines the nature of the coming battle over semiconductors, showing how the power to produce leading-edge chips fell into the hands of just five companies: three from the U.S., one from Japan, and one from the Netherlands.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at

Latest Stories