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Us companies could face lawsuits and potential criminal liability for paying for abortions

via:凤凰网     time:2022/6/27 10:01:45     readed:75

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned roe v. Wade, and women's right to abortion is no longer protected by the U.S. Constitution.Legal experts say,A growing number of large U.S. companies say they will pay for travel expenses for employees who must leave their home or state to have an abortion, but the new policies could expose companies to lawsuits and even potential criminal liability.

Within an hour of the bill's release, Roger Middot, chief executive of Conde Nast, an international journal publishing group based in New York City, said: "It's a very important issue. Roger Lynch sent an email to employees announcing a travel expense policy and called the court's decision "a serious blow to reproductive rights." Disney released a similar policy on Friday, telling employees that it recognizes the impact of the abortion ruling but remains committed to providing comprehensive quality health care, according to a spokeswoman.

Including Tesla, Amazon, Disney, Starbucks, JPMORGAN Chase, Citigroup, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, Netflix, mastercard, United Talent Agency, Levi Strauss, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, FactboxMajor U.S. companies in the technology, finance, clothing, restaurant and entertainment industries also announced reimbursement policies on Friday.

The June 24 ruling to ban abortion has gone into effect in 13 states, and at least a dozen other Republican-led states are expected to ban abortion.

The court's decision, pushed by a conservative majority, upheld Mississippi's law banning abortions after 15 weeks. At the same time, some Democratic-led states are moving in favor of abortion.

Companies will have to deal with a patchwork of state lawsIf they adopt policies that support employee abortions, they are likely to incur the wrath of anti-abortion groups and Republican-led states.

State lawmakers in Texas have threatened Citigroup, the world's largest financial services company, and Lyft, the second-largest RIDE-hailing app in the US, which earlier announced a travel expense policy that sparked some legal fallout. Last month, a group of Republican lawmakers said in a letter to Lyft CEO Logan Green that Texas "will take swift and decisive action" if it implements the policy.

Lawmakers also outlined a series of abortion-related proposals, including a billCompanies would be barred from doing business in Texas if they paid for state residents to get abortions elsewhere.

Litigation looms

Robin Middot, a law professor at the University of Illinois and an expert on health care law; Fretwell & Middot; Robin Fretwell Wilson, the company's chief executive, said it was probably only a matter of time before the company faced lawsuits from states or anti-abortion campaigners claiming that its policies on paying for abortions were at odds with states' efforts to promote and support abortion. "If you can Sue me for taking your daughter across state lines, you can Sue Amazon for paying for it."

Amazon, Citigroup, Lyft, Conde Nast and several other companies that have announced reimbursement policies did not respond to requests for comment.

For large companies that do not fund reproductive health for their employees, federal laws regulating employee benefits would provide an important safeguard against civil lawsuits over their reimbursement policies, several lawyers and other legal experts said.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) prohibits states from interfering with corporate-sponsored health plans. For decades, courts have interpreted it as prohibiting what state laws say health plans can and cannot cover. ERISA administers employer-funded benefit plans called self-insurance plans. In 2021, 64 percent of American workers with employer-sponsored health insurance were covered by self-insurance plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Katie Johnson, senior adviser for health policy at the American Welfare Council, a trade group,Any company sued over abortion travel claims is likely to cite the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 as a defense,That would be a powerful argument.Although abortion-related policies are still relatively rare, reimbursement for other types of medical-related travel, such as visits to designated hospitals, has become common, Johnson said.


This argument has its limits.Fully insured health plans, in which employers buy insurance through commercial insurers,It covers only about a third of insured workers and is regulated by state law, not ERISA.Most small and medium-sized American businesses have fully insured plans, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 cannot be entirely assumed to prevent states from restricting abortion coverage.

Moreover, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 does not prevent states from enforcing criminal laws, and companies with expense reimbursement policies are vulnerable to criminal charges from state and local prosecutors if several states criminalize aiding and abetting abortion.

But according to Chicago-based lawyer Danita & Middot; Most criminal abortion laws haven't been enforced in the decades since Roe was decided, so it's unclear whether the government will try to Sue companies, said Danita Merlau, a lawyer at The University of California, SAN Jose.

Related reading:

Offer abortion travel benefits! Giant corporations are rebelling against the U.S. Supreme Court

Data Collection 'accomplice' to Abortion Rights reversal

Gates on abortion ban: It puts women's lives at risk

Apple says its employees have reproductive health benefits but has been asked by lawmakers to investigate

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