Other major US companies that have extended similar benefits — either following the leaked draft opinion or immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision last week — include Starbucks, Target, Airbnb, Yelp, Amazon, Meta, Netflix, Disney and CNN parent company Warner Brothers Discovery.
“After Dobbs, the alliance between social conservatives and neoliberal corporatists in the GOP is over. Look no further than mega-corporations caving to the far-left and offering to cover all abortion-related expenses for their employees,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said in a statement to CNN.
“Republicans ought to focus on pro-family policies to support mothers and their children, not corporate welfare for big business and the ultra-wealthy,” the senator added.
The abortion-related travel benefits have quickly captured the attention of Republican critics of companies engaging in fraught political issues. They see it as another hostile move against social conservatism by boardrooms across America, saying it is part of a larger trend of companies becoming more amenable to progressive causes and political activism. And after years of promoting corporate tax cuts and subsidies that benefited big business and kept industry money flowing to the GOP, voices like Hawley’s are growing louder across the party — especially among Republicans with leadership or presidential ambitions.
“I think that’s going to become more of the norm,” Anderson said.
“I think conservative voters see the actions these companies are taking, and it’s one more thing that adds to their frustration,” Anderson said.
She added, “If the November election goes the way we think it will, there will be a huge mandate for elected officials up and down the ballot to take seriously these companies going so woke.”
Conservative hard-liners have been quietly laying the groundwork for a legislative assault on corporate America if Republicans win control of Congress and more governor’s mansions this fall. Among the ideas being floated are packages that would target the elevation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals in business or remove privileges such as antitrust immunity and copyright protections that major companies have long enjoyed.
As those discussions continue amid the backdrop of Dobbs, some of those involved said companies offering abortion-related benefits are beginning to draw as much hatred in conservative circles as the tech companies that Republicans have accused of rampant politically correct censorship.
Among those at the center of these discussions are Anderson’s group, Heritage Action for America; right-wing intellectuals at the Claremont Institute, which has become a brain trust of sorts for efforts to counter what it describes as “woke capital;” and GOP lawmakers such as Hawley, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, among others. In May, Rubio unveiled a bill targeting “radical corporate activism” that would prevent companies from deducting expenses related “to their employees’ abortion travel costs.”
“Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life,” he said in a press release at the time.
“These conversations are happening, and I think there’s going to be a menu of options that conservatives put together … to really encourage action and support elected officials who want to do the right thing,” said Anderson, who added that a “quiet period of planning and preparation” is currently happening across a number of states whose legislative sessions have already ended for the year.
Banks — who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee and has floated ending lucrative copyright protections for companies that display “wokeness,” among other policies targeting big business and Big Tech — condemned the push by companies to cover abortion-related costs for employees. In a refrain echoed by other Republicans, he appeared to claim that such benefits are aimed at helping a company’s bottom line through employee retention.
“This isn’t about ‘women’s choice.’ An abortion costs less than paid family leave and allows companies to retain employees. These corporations are telling women that their children have negative value. Americans will not forget that,” Banks said.
A winning issue with the GOP base
“Corporate CEOs would be wise to focus their attention on the traditional role of a corporation — creating value for shareholders — rather than using corporate profits to support the abortion industry,” Pence said.
Asked whether she would go after such companies operating in her state, Noem told CBS host Margaret Brennan, “Those aren’t the conversations we’re having.
But as the party’s base becomes increasingly hostile to corporate America, responses like Noem’s may no longer be satisfactory — and could be potentially damaging in a future GOP presidential primary.
“I would like to see more Republican governors — regardless of whether these companies are in their states or not — taking steps to voice concern about this shift in companies becoming so political in what they are standing for,” Anderson said. “There are still a lot of Republicans who need to say something.”