DETROIT – After a draft of a Supreme Court ruling was leaked, suggesting that the high court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, businesses across the U.S. are facing pressure to take a side or make their position on the issue known.
A leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that was expected to be announced this summer was revealed to the public by Politico on May 2. The contents of that draft ruling, which indicate that the Supreme Court will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe decision, was confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The nation’s high court is hearing a case out of Mississippi, where lawmakers are pushing to ban most abortions beyond 15 weeks gestation. Justices are expected to determine whether to uphold Roe or to overturn it when hearing the Mississippi case, and there was already concern that the court would choose to overturn Roe especially due to the conservative views of six justices.
The leaked draft is not an official ruling, but strongly indicates that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned. In light of the leak, corporate America is feeling pressure from employees and consumers alike.
One of the biggest questions is whether or not abortion will be covered by benefits for employees. Some major companies are already working to find ways to cover employees who may need to cross state lines for abortion care. Some companies are deciding whether they should take a public position at all -- despite staking their political claims in other hot-button debates.
Across the nation, the yells of protesters are being met with corporate silence. Major companies like JP Morgan, Verizon and Microsoft all declined to comment when asked about the Supreme Court draft opinion.
A spokesperson for Business Roundtable, a group that represents the country’s top CEOs, said that they “(do) not have a position on this issue.”
“I don’t know how much neutrality can continue to be the position,” said Erika Seth Davies, who works with companies on their benefits policies. “I think it is very clear that more businesses will have to speak up and just take the risk.”
Business Roundtable did have positions on other issues, though, releasing statements on the Build Back Better Act, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Companies may be apprehensive to take a stance after seeing the battle between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor signed a bill preventing school instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation. Disney CEO Bob Chapek called for the law to be repealed or struck down. The Republican controlled Florida state Legislature then voted to take away Disney’s self-governing authority.
As states started passing abortion laws, which would take effect if the Roe ruling is overturned, companies like Apple, Amazon and Levi Strauss began offering to cover travel costs for employees who need the procedure.
“Abortion is part of the constellation of care that women need to show up at work,” said Jen Stark, who helps companies navigate social justice change. “We know when women lack access to abortion, they’re three times more likely to leave the workplace and four times more likely to be in poverty.”
Stark says companies have to think about their role in advocacy and public policy. She also says that younger consumers gravitate toward companies that align with their beliefs.
There has been continued silence from a number of businesses, including Meta, Google and Disney.