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Companies announce abortion benefits as trigger bans take effect in some states

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Keenan joins the Live show to discuss corporate America's response to abortion care after Congress overturned Roe v. Wade.

Video transcript

- In the meantime, a weekend of unrest as people took to the streets across the country to protest the Supreme Court ruling in overruling of Roe v Wade. As we've been hearing, many companies have come out with plans to pay for their employees to travel if necessary to get abortions. Others, including Dick's Sporting Goods, have joined that list this weekend. It's quite a long one now. Joining us to discuss this, Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keene, who's been covering the ruling and then the ripple effect from it. So a lot of companies have come out and said that they're going to do this.

ALEXIS KEENAN: A lot. And we had just a few there on the screen. And I want to name some more of these companies. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. But take a look at how corporate America is responding, and major corporate America at that, affirming that they will offer these travel benefits to their workers who are in states who cannot legally obtain an abortion, either now or when their trigger laws go into effect. Google, JPMorgan Chase, Apple, Netflix, Tesla, Lyft, Amazon, Mastercard, Microsoft, Disney, Warner Brothers. As I said, just a partial list there.

And that's going to be really important here. Now, over the weekend-- this is since the ruling came out on Friday-- you have Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights advocate, saying that nine states had already gone ahead and let their trigger bans go into place. Those are the ones making abortion illegal in the states.

You have Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah all taking those steps. That's out of 26 states that are expected or likely to have either limitations or bans on abortion to go into effect post overturning of Roe v Wade. Now, there is also been a letter that has been issued by 29 so far state and federal prosecutors saying that they will not prosecute these new laws. That includes prosecutors in states that have already put these bans into place.

- I have so many questions about this whole situation. I mean, for me, you mentioned Tesla. There's an irony there, obviously, because Tesla just relocated to Texas, a state where there are going to be severe restrictions, from California. And also, of course, Elon Musk has made political comments. But be that as it may, I imagine there's still a lot of detail at these companies to be worked out because it's not like you want to call your boss and say, I need an abortion. I need to travel out of state. So there must be some protocols that they're going to have to put in place here.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Right. So the way that some of these companies have framed the access here is not to say, we're explicitly providing an abortion benefit. They're saying that if their worker cannot obtain medical care within, let's say, 100 miles of their home location where they work, if they can't obtain the medical care that they need, they can go ahead and get a reimbursement to go elsewhere for that care.

So certainly not limited to abortions, but allows employees to take advantage of it for that. You also have questions about whether states will choose to prosecute companies that provide these types of services. You had Texas state lawmakers already floating the idea that they would pass a bill saying that companies that provide this type of benefit that they'll make it illegal for those companies to do business in Texas that do so.

However, lawyers that are experts in this area, they say that federal law, particularly under Arista for companies that provide their own plans for their workers, that they're going to have a hard time keeping the state-- or at least making the state not able to go ahead and kind of get its hands into this area. Federal law will probably protect these employers to be able to implement these plans.

- And so when it comes back to the confidentiality, though, for any type of medical procedure, but especially for your own right to find a procedure in a different state even if your company is getting involved in the conversation and allowing it, what does that then get us into in terms of the disclosures that an employee would then have to have to their employer in that instance? And how is that being reworked at this point too?

ALEXIS KEENAN: It's one of so many questions that are going to be out there. But generally, HIPAA does protect workers from having to disclose specific-- easy for me to say-- medical procedures. So in that catchall example that I referenced earlier saying that if you cannot obtain a medical procedure that you need within the location where you live or where you work that you would be able to go ahead and apply for that, usually federal law protects workers from having to say what procedure they're having. Those records may exist within the company. But it's usually not where you have to put it down and say I want X procedure.

- Now, Alexis, I know this is not entirely your purview. But I am curious, as we hear all these come keeps making these comments, that's what they're doing on the one hand. On the other hand, what have we heard politically from them? Because I was seeing some examples over the weekend of reporting saying, well, this company is providing this benefit, but it also gave money to candidates, for example, who supported overturning Roe v Wade, or even political action committees that were working to overturn Roe v Wade. So you do have a little hypocrisy perhaps on the part of some of these companies.

ALEXIS KEENAN: You do. And a big one. Amazon was one of those companies that was criticized for that. And what we're talking about here, donations that are going to both sides of the aisle, which has long been considered good corporate practice to be able to support candidates on both sides, keep everybody happy, lobby as you will, lobby to your benefit. But, yeah, that is one of those things out there that I think is going to see a lot more criticism are these companies that are maybe playing both sides and not taking a true stand one way or the other for women in this country that have now been subject to very, very changing laws with respect to reproductive rights.

- Continuing to track the public response as well as the company response as well, our own Alexis Keenan. Thanks so much for breaking this down for us, Alexis.