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Tina Casey headshot

Airplane Tickets Don’t Solve Corporations’ Abortion Access Problem

Business execs worried about employees' safety must look within considering any support of politicians leading efforts like the push to end abortion access.
By Tina Casey
Abortion Access

Corporate leaders have long decried government regulation and overreach. However, in recent years they have been more than willing to tolerate government regulation and overreach in the area of individual rights. As a result, many of their own employees are now under threat of violence, and their companies’ own diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs are revealed as just another corporate public relations exercise.

The party of big business has gone rogue

Millions of corporate employees and their families are seeing their basic civil, social and human rights picked apart in real time, whether from new voter suppression laws, new anti-trans laws, the banning of books in public schools and libraries, or the backlash against teaching facts about American history — or all of these, all at once.

These legislative developments are linked to the rising tide of extremism among Republican policy makers, many of whom have enjoyed significant corporate support over the years. It is no accident that they are colored by a tinge of hysteria, considering the influence of the extremist QAnon cult. QAnon-linked conspiracy theories have gained significant currency among Republican voters, despite the cult’s growing reputation as a Russian propaganda mill that revolves around accusations of pedophilia and centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes.

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Writing for U.S. News and World Report last February, reporter Susan Milligan summed up the tenets of the QAnon cult:

“Here's a theory: Satan-worshipping pedophiles running a global sex-trafficking operation control the U.S. government, media and financial institutions. A storm is coming to sweep away the elites and restore the rightful leader of the country. And things are so off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save the country.”

As ridiculous as that sounds, that is the belief system affirmed by about 25 percent of self-identified Republicans who answered a survey of those tenets last year. The survey was undertaken by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute last year, which also noted that exposure to right wing news media was the most accurate indicator of belief in the central tenets of QAnon.

The affiliation of QAnon with right-wing media helps to explain why its tenets have taken hold among Republican legislators as well as rank-and-file voters. According to a report last week by the startup media organization Grid News, dozens of Republican candidates for office in the 2022 election cycle are linked to one or more QAnon tenets.

“In sum: QAnon appears to be a growing political movement with increasing clout and significant mainstream appeal,” Grid News reported.

The ongoing threat to abortion access

Concurrent with the QAnon-fueled legislative chaos is a fresh, cascading torrent of new laws that pander to the gun “rights” movement, at the expense of the health, safety and lives of others.

Most at risk are pregnant people, who are more likely to die by homicide than other causes, often at the hands of a partner.

That may seem difficult to believe, considering that pregnancy is itself a significant health risk. However, a growing bank of fact-based information shows that pregnant or recently pregnant people are at higher risk of homicide as well as suicide and drug overdose.

To the extent that guns in the home increase the risk of both homicide and suicide, the health and safety impact of lax gun control falls disproportionately on pregnant people. The risk of violence rises even more for younger pregnant people and people of color.

Violence and the corporate response

Against this backdrop, the recent spate of new anti-abortion laws takes the unmistakable form of violent repression. As much as the anti-abortion movement would like to portray itself as “pro-life,” in reality it is an anti-pregnancy movement that targets non-binary people and men as well as women.

Business leaders who now decry the threat to the health, safety and mental well-being of their employees have only themselves to blame. As a group, they sat silent or actively supported Republican candidates who rode into office on a triple wave of voter suppression, gun rights and the push to curb abortion access.

Now that the legislative chickens have come home to roost, it is too late. The only response undertaken by corporate leaders is to offer financial support for employees who need to travel out-of-state for an abortion, due to anti-pregnancy laws in their home state.

Salesforce set that bar last September, in response to new anti-pregnancy laws in Texas. That certainly was no help to the many pregnant people in Texas who don’t work for Salesforce. Nor did it help many millions more in the growing number of states where legislators are also passing new anti-pregnancy laws, in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could overturn the protections for pregnant people outlined in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Nevertheless, Yelp and Apple have followed the Salesforce tickets-for-abortion example, as have several other leading corporations.

That won’t make a difference. Salesforce, Apple, Yelp and the others appear to forget that they are headquartered in the U.S.A., not in another nation where Western corporations must tread carefully to avoid conflict with cultural and legal norms.

Perhaps that is the point, after all. The U.S. is becoming another nation – or it will, if the QAnon cult continues its takeover of the Republican party.

In a related sign that the fox has already taken over the henhouse, the U.S. Supreme Court – where the majority currently consists of Republican-affiliated Justices – is on the verge of overturning state-based gun control laws.

Corporate leaders can dispense all the plane tickets they want to their own employees. That won’t make a difference in the 2022 election cycle, and pregnant people will continue to pay the price of that indifference.

Image credit: Gayatri Malhotra via Unsplash

Tina Casey headshot

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes.

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