#SilentNoMore: An Open Letter to the CEOs Speaking Up for Equality and Human Rights

Bravo! Business leaders have stepped up to fight Trump’s decision to end DACA and defend the Dreamers. The decision has been slammed by Apple, Facebook, Salesforce and Google, among many others. Microsoft’s president Brad Smith went so far as to declare that any attempt to deport one of its “Dreamer” employees would “have to go through us to get that person.”

We hope you are as successful as you’ve been in killing other mean-spirited laws, like the so-called “religious freedom” laws that allow companies to deny service to gay people and “bathroom bills” that prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

Your latest victory was in Texas. In a letter you wrote to the governor, you called the proposed bathroom bill discriminatory and you said “Such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business.” CEOs from 51 Fortune 500 companies—including all the major tech firms—publicly condemned the bathroom bill, along with hundreds of other business leaders. Even the NFL and the NBA “put Texas on notice.”

But did you know that at the very same time the Texas legislature was debating the bathroom bill, it was debating a bill to ban all abortions? Ultimately, four new draconian restrictions were signed into law, including a ban on all private health insurance plans from covering abortion care.

And yet, not a single CEO spoke up. Not one. Why were you silent?

Because of hostile laws, Texas now has only 21 clinics that provide abortion services, down from more than 40 just four years ago. And Texas has refused federal Medicaid family planning funds, forcing the closure of 82 family planning clinics across Texas.

The result? Women are literally dying.

Maternal mortality in the state has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years, making these restrictions on access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare of particular concern. The most cost-effective way to reduce maternal mortality is family planning.

Business leaders said nothing as 28 states this year alone introduced bills to ban all or some abortions. Even now, as Trump has announced he will rescind the requirement that employee health insurance plans include contraception, you have remained silent.

Don’t you think these laws are discriminatory, “bad for employees” and “bad for business?” Dr. Daniel Grossman, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, put it best—asking why there hasn’t been “…similar corporate outrage as conservative legislatures continue to pass laws that increase risks to women’s health and prevent employers from supporting their workers building their families, if, when and how they choose.”

Why are you silent?

Is it because you are almost exclusively men and there are few or no women among your senior executives or on your boards to urge that you speak up for your women employees?

Is it because you fear a backlash from abortion opponents—even though the vast majority (70 percent) of Americans support legal abortion—the same percentage supporting DACA?

Is it because you think abortion should be subject to some kind of “religious freedom” law even though it is a fundamental human right? Indeed, in the United States, it is a constitutional right.

We believe it’s past time you break your silence. We challenge you to publicly pledge that you will be #SilentNoMore. That you will speak up and fight to protect this fundamental human right. And that you will guarantee all your employees are covered for the full range of reproductive health care—including abortion and contraception—with no co-pays or no deductibles.

Our fights for justice and equality are interconnected, and we cannot move forward if we do not fight together. We stand together in the fight for immigrant rights and LGBTQ equality. We need you stand with us in our fight for women’s bodily autonomy and self-determination.

What are you waiting for? Say you’re #SilentNoMore.



  1. Julie Rufo says:

    If today you tell me I cannot haves an abortion, tomorrow you can tell me that I must have an abortion. That is why no one can make those decisions but individual women.

  2. It’s time that the corporate sector cared about more than profits. Our society is gravely endangered by corporate practices that undermine the health and well-being of its employees.

  3. The Association of American Law Schools moved its 2018 conference to Chicago from Austin, Tex., because the Texas Legislature okayed discrimination against immigrants and LGBTQ people. I applaud the Association’s decision and hope other organizations follow suit. I can’t help but wonder, however, why their concern with human rights didn’t kick in when Texas banned funding to Planned Parenthood and one out of every four family planning clinics in Texas closed. At the very least, 47,000 women lost healthcare, including thousands having to stop using their long-acting birth control. Medicaid-covered pregnancies increased by over 25% and unintended pregnancies and abortions also greatly increased. That was certainly an attack on human rights. Where’s the outrage over that?

  4. Bonnie Chalek says:

    So tired of women being treated as “last”. Enough. It also shows how corporate leaders treat women from the top down. They pay them less, blind eye to sexual harrassment and obviously don’t care if they have access to abortion and life choices. Stop the patriarchy.

  5. It’s time for the business community to stand with women the same way they have stood with others.

  6. Joyce Shain says:

    Woman make their own decisions about when to become a Mother not the government! US out of our uterus s!

  7. Joyce Shain says:

    Woman make their own decisions about when to become a Mother not the government! US out of our uteruses!

  8. April Korbel says:

    As a post-menopausal woman, I suppose people think I’m past this. Contraception, reproductive health and all that are no longer a concern for me. Right? But I had the “luxury” of spending my reproductive years in a country where I could get help and advice from Planned Parenthood as a poor college student. A country where I didn’t need an act of Congress or Warren Buffet’s bank account to get contraception. A country where abortion was still an option, even though I’m not sure I could have gone through with it, even in an emergency. These are things I took for granted until recent years and it angers me that my nieces and cousins may not have access to the same options because some narrow-minded legislators can’t stay out of the private healthcare choices.
    Women in Texas are already dying. Unwanted birth rates are up. We’re a first world country with a maternal and infant mortality rate of sub-Saharan Africa.
    If this pisses you off, speak up. Don’t let a minority destroy all the progress women have made in 100 years.

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