Corporate Backlash Builds Against Texas’s Abortion Ban: “Policies That Restrict Reproductive Health Are Bad for Business”

“Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our workers and customers.”

—”Don’t Ban Equality in Texas,” a letter signed by 52 companies in response to Texas’s extreme abortion ban

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A ‘Stop Abortion Bans’ rally in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 21, 2019. (Fibonacci Blue / Flickr)

A potential brain drain from Texas is looming as a result of the state’s unprecedented six-week abortion ban: Two-thirds of college-educated respondents said Senate Bill 8 would discourage them from working in the state, a recent poll conducted by PerryUndem warns. Now, three weeks after the law took effect, a coordinated corporate backlash is finally beginning to take shape.

On Tuesday, over 50 companies signed a letter titled “Don’t Ban Equality,” which argues that abortion restrictions are bad for business—marking the largest outcry yet from the business sector against the controversial bill. The letter is a redux of a 2019 one with the same name, a coordinated effort against a slew of anti-abortion legislation that cropped up that year—though 2021 is now the year with the most abortion restrictions enacted since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The letter—whose signatories include Lyft, Glossier, Yelp, Stitch Fix, Bumble (an Austin-based company), Ben & Jerry’s and others—critiques the economic impacts of Texas’s abortion restrictions, both within the state and across the country. Citing data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, it argues that “economic losses from existing abortion restrictions, including labor force impact and earnings, already cost the State of Texas an estimated $14.5 billion annually. Nationally, state-level restrictions cost state economies $105 billion dollars per year.”

Prior to the letter, the corporate world had been generally quiet about the Texas abortion law, with a few exceptions: Salesforce, a San Francisco-based software company with a branch in Dallas, and Bospar, a tech PR company with offices in Texas, both pledged to help employees and their families relocate if they’re concerned about the ability to seek reproductive care; Lyft and Uber offered to pay legal fees for drivers who face potential lawsuits related to the new law; and Bumble started a fund to help people seeking abortions in the state.

The law’s vigilante-style system makes it unique from other six-week bans and, for now, immune from judicial action—but also particularly offensive to a large majority of Americans: 81 percent of the country says Texas’s bounty system is wrong, according to a Monmouth University poll from Sep. 20. Even still, several states are eyeing copycat bans, and experts anticipate more to follow.

Read the full letter below:

Equality in the workplace is one of the most important business issues of our time.

Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our workers and customers. 

When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities, and our economy are better for it. 

The economic losses from existing abortion restrictions, including labor force impact and earnings, already cost the State of Texas an estimated $14.5 billion annually.  Nationally, state-level restrictions cost state economies $105 billion dollars per year.

Simply put, policies that restrict reproductive health care go against our values and are bad for business. It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.

The future of gender equality hangs in the balance, putting our families, communities, businesses and the economy at risk. 

We stand against policies that hinder people’s health, independence and ability to fully succeed in the workplace. 

We, the undersigned, stand against policies that hinder people’s health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace. 

The letter was signed by the following 52 companies: Yelp, Lyft, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Box Inc., Asana, Madewell, Bumble, Benefit Cosmetics, Amalgamated Bank, Stitch Fix, Seventh Generation, Zendesk Inc., Atlassian Corp., Everlane, The Body Shop, Capgemini Invent, Momentive, OJO Labs, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Adya Partners, Syzygy Plasmonics Inc., M.M.LaFleur, Brenda Thompson Communications, Visceral, Luminary, Clean Yield Asset Management, Playful Studios/ BetRed Stories, BSR, VICE Media Group, HarbourView Equity Partners, mara hoffman, Michael Stars, Civitech, Farmgirl Flowers, Medicines360, Houndstooth Coffee, Glossier, Mercury Fund, WP Engine, Clare V., Adasina Social Capital, Trillium Asset Management LLC, Spot Insurance Inc., People at the Center, Burton Snowboards, Earth Equity Advisors, LLC, Gather Voices, The Pill Club, IFundWomen and The Cru.

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About

Roxy Szal is the digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast "On the Issues With Michele Goodwin." Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.