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These governors believe their states’ abortion-rights stances can lure businesses

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By Levi Sumagaysay

As the nation faces a post-Roe v. Wade reality, some Democratic governors are playing up abortion protections in their states to try to entice companies to move there.

Touting their abortion laws as a selling point, the governors of California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut are pitching their states to potential defectors from other states that already have or will likely ban most or all abortions in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling .

“I’m not sure a CEO will choose a state because it’s pro- or anti-choice,” Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut said Friday in an interview with MarketWatch. “But I do know they want to be in a place where they can recruit good workers. And people, especially young people, will gravitate to a place that will protect women.”

Within the past few years, Lamont has written letters to businesses in states where abortion rights have been curtailed, and he continues to highlight the state’s values. “Do companies ask about the price of energy? Yes,” he said. “Do they ask about whether a place is welcoming for women? Absolutely.”

Adam Winkler, a professor who specializes in constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles and the author of “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights,” said Friday that he expects businesses to face pressure to move to abortion-friendly states.

“This decision is a far-reaching one that will reverberate through American politics and American business,” Winkler said. “Businesses like women to be able to control their reproduction. One of the problems with forced motherhood is that it prevents people from controlling their labor; from being able to work when they want to work.”

For more: Individual states will now decide whether to ban abortion. Will this play a role in where Americans choose to live?

After an initial draft of the Supreme Court opinion, which overturns abortion rights at the federal level and leaves the question to individual states, was leaked last month, many companies announced that they would pay travel costs for employees who needed to go to other states for abortion care.

But Winkler said he worries “that’s a mostly symbolic gesture,” adding that he thinks many women wouldn’t want to let their employers know about their abortions. Some women might find it “humiliating” to have to submit abortion-related travel expenses to their bosses, he said.

Read: Starbucks, Tesla, Amazon among companies that will cover abortion travel costs for employees

Some governors also say that companies’ offers to foot abortion-related travel expenses are not enough. That’s why they’re taking an approach that may not necessarily work immediately, according to experts, but could make a difference in some cases — or in the long run.

‘Another arrow in our quiver’

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who this month signed a legislative package that includes protections for abortion patients and providers, courted CEOs in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “New York Promises Your Employees Reproductive Freedom.”

“Some companies located in states that limit access are offering transportation for employees to get an abortion out of state,” Hochul wrote. “But there’s a better way for those CEOs to protect their employees’ essential rights. Don’t keep your operations in a state imposing these barbaric restrictions. Move to New York.”

For more: NYC Mayor Eric Adams: ‘To those seeking abortions around the country — know that you are welcome here’

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed more than $2 billion in new grants, tax credits and other incentives to attract companies that might want to leave states with antiabortion or anti-LGBTQ laws. It is part of a reproductive-health package, which also includes more funding for abortion-related healthcare and services, that he announced in May as his administration reacted to the leaked Supreme Court opinion.

Other governors have written letters to specific companies in states like Texas, Georgia and Ohio — which have already passed restrictive abortion laws or are expected to because of the Supreme Court decision — urging them to relocate.

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