Yelp Joins Growing List of Companies Covering Costs for Texas Employees Seeking Abortions Out of State

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, against S.B. 8, which prohibits abortions in Texas between the fifth and sixth weeks of pregnancy. (Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images)

Update April 13, at 12:05 p.m.: Yelp Inc. announced on Tuesday that starting next month it will cover expenses for its employees and their dependents who must travel to another state for abortion services. “As a remote-first company with a distributed workforce, this new benefit allows our U.S. employees and their dependents to have equitable access to reproductive care, regardless of where they live,” Miriam Warren, Yelp’s chief diversity officer, said in a statement.

Yelp joins Citigroup, Match Group, Bumble as the four publicly traded companies helping cover travel costs for Texas employees seeking abortions out of state—a necessity in the wake of S.B. 8, which bans abortions after six weeks. Clinics in Texas’s surrounding states have reported a nearly 800 percent increase in abortion patients since the law was enacted.

Citigroup is the only Wall Street bank led by a woman. It’s also the first U.S. banking company to comment publicly on anti-abortion legislation in the U.S., which has been reaching new extremes in states like Texas and Idaho. “In response to changes in reproductive health-care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” Citi’s 2022 proxy statement read in its filing for an April shareholder meeting.

In September after S.B. 8 took effect in Texas, 52 companies went public against the controversial bill with a letter titled “Don’t Ban Equality,” which argued abortion restrictions are bad for business. Signed by Lyft, Glossier, Yelp, Stitch Fix, Bumble , Ben & Jerry’s and others, the letter critiqued the economic impacts of Texas’s abortion restrictions, both within the state and across the country.

That same month, Salesforce, a San Francisco-based software company with an office 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.

2021 was a record-breaking year for abortion restrictions, and 2022 is on track to exceed last year’s numbers, according to a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, as Republican controlled states race to outdo each other with extreme measures. The Guttmacher report outlines “efforts from banning treatment for ectopic pregnancies to prohibiting people seeking abortions from leaving their home state.”

Abortion bans are not popular: Sixty percent of Americans believe the Supreme Court should uphold its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Just 27 percent believe it should be overturned. When asked specifically about the Texas law, which bans abortions after six weeks following a woman’s last menstrual period and is enforced by private vigilantes, an even larger percentage—65 percent—think the Supreme Court should reject the law. Seventy-five percent of Americans think the decision whether or not to have an abortion “should be left to the woman and her doctor.”

Some predict a brain drain from states like Texas and Idaho that are passing or aiming to pass unprecedented bans: Two-thirds of college-educated respondents to a PerryUndem poll said S.B. 8 would discourage them from working in the state.

Come June, when the Supreme Court announces the end of Roe v. Wade as many experts predict, even more business leaders will feel the pressure to take a stand on the issue. Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, told Ms., “You’re either going to support people and this fight for safe and legal abortion in this country, or you’re on the other side.”

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

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Roxanne Szal (or Roxy) is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.