NEW YORK CITY – Walmart, the country’s largest employer, is increasing its abortion coverage for employees after remaining relatively silent on the matter following the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the right to abortion nationally.
The corporation said in a message to staff on Friday that its health-care plans will now cover abortion for employees “where there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or loss of foetal viability.”
According to a copy of the policy seen by The Associated Press but not confirmed by Walmart, the company’s benefits plan had previously only covered abortion in situations “when the health of the mother would be in danger if the foetus were carried to term, the could not survive the birthing process, or death would be imminent after birth.”
The retailer’s chief human resources officer, Donna Morris, stated in a memo to staff that the new policy will also provide “travel support” for employees seeking abortions covered by its health care plans – as well as their dependents – so they can access services that are not offered within 100 miles of their locations.
Companies including : Dick’s Sporting Goods, Google, and Disney have paid for abortion-related travel since the Dobbs ruling.
In the United States, Walmart employs close to 1.6 million people. Abortion is illegal in Arkansas, where the business is situated, unless it is required to save the mother’s life in the event of a medical emergency. Rape and incest have no exclusions. To receive the procedure under the retailer’s health coverage, Walmart employees will now be permitted to go outside of the state or to any other state where abortion for rape and incest is prohibited.
In the wake of the supreme court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, a number of businesses, including Meta, American Express, and Bank of America, have announced they will pay for the travel expenses of their workers, including elective abortions. However, a request for confirmation regarding whether the company’s amended policy will also cover elective abortions received no immediate response from a Walmart spokesman.
According to Bianca Agustin, head of corporate responsibility programme at United for Respect, a nonprofit that supports Walmart employees, “it’s a start in the right way, but it’s just not far enough for a company that employs that many women.” According to her, the group would include “safe abortions” for workers in their list of demands as they pressure the business for greater pay and benefits.
While this has been going on, a lot of other businesses and groups who speak for some of the biggest businesses in the country have remained silent.
According to Vanessa Burbano, a professor at Columbia University’s business school who studies how firms take social stands, Walmart’s cautious development of their abortion policy demonstrates its attempt to balance various demands and perspectives from employees, investors, and other stakeholders.
It’s considerably tougher than many people originally believe, according to Burano. “What makes it so difficult is that not all of their stakeholders have the same viewpoint on any of these topics. They are attempting to determine the best way to thread the needle.
The business announced in the email delivered on Friday that it will also open a facility where workers may receive reproductive treatments including in vitro fertilization. It also promised to boost its financial help for adoptions from $5,000 to $20,000 and include surrogacy support. In order to address racial inequities in maternity care, Walmart said in June that it will increase the number of doulas (persons who support women throughout pregnancy) it offers.