Jun 29, 2022 - News

Texas companies face tough decisions over abortion

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Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

In offering to pay for workers to travel out of state for an abortion, Texas companies are tackling the first of many challenges they'll need to navigate in a post-Roe world.

Why it matters: Tech companies have plenty of money to cover the costs of such travel, but will face tougher decisions when it comes to expansion, locating conferences, which politicians to support and how to handle court orders for customer data, according to Axios' Ina Fried.

Driving the news: After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, several companies based at least partially in Texas announced they would reimburse employees who live in states where abortion will be illegal for travel and medical expenses to other states where abortion rights remain in place — or said employees could use travel benefits.

  • Dallas-based Match Group, which owns a slew of dating sites including Tinder, first promised financial support to employees seeking abortions in affected states after Texas changed its abortion laws last year.
  • Southwest Airlines told employees Friday that the company "will work to support our peoples' needs while remaining compliant with state and federal laws." Southwest also pointed out that "people travel for many reasons, including medical" and said the company doesn't ask for details surrounding any journey.
  • Facebook's parent company Meta, which has a large presence in Texas, said they "will cover any necessary travel costs."

Yes, but: Companies haven't talked about how they might handle employee information or data requests from prosecutors, although it's an issue sure to come up.

The big picture: A wide range of data could be sought by prosecutors, such as purchases of pregnancy tests and ovulation kits on Amazon, messaging data from Facebook, and location data from Google or cellular carriers.

Between the lines: Even paying for travel could prove to be more complicated than just offering the money.

  • Employees may have to share their pregnancy status and other sensitive medical information with employers in order to get such coverage.
  • That information could be subpoenaed by law enforcement, and pregnancy-related discrimination is still a big issue in the tech industry.
  • Plus, it makes workers even more dependent on their employers and highlights a fresh challenge for freelancers and contractors who work for tech companies without full benefits.

What we're watching: Do state lawmakers take action to prevent companies from providing this type of support?


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