Business and Roe v. Wade

After a Supreme Court bombshell, companies may find themselves thrust further into the political fray.

By New York Times Staff June 15, 2022
Business and Roe v. Wade

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A draft Supreme Court opinion shows that a majority of justices voted in February to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case establishing the right to abortion. The opinion, obtained by Politico, is still subject to change and debate up until its official release, which is expected by this summer. Regardless of the outcome, the draft is likely to have immediate consequences for business, thrusting companies further into the political fray.

More companies may be compelled to speak out. This is already playing out at the state level in places likeTexas, where a restrictive abortion law has led Yelp, Citigroup and others to pledge to help pay for employees to travel out of state for abortions. (Amazon told employees yesterday that it would provide similar reimbursements.) The draft opinion just turned this polarizing issue into a pressing midterm election question. That means companies could expect pressure from both employees and consumers to take a stand.

Corporate political spending will get strict scrutiny. Since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, companies have faced more pressure to align their political contributions with their stated principles. Roe v. Wade is perhaps the most contentious case of this age, sofor businesses there is no politically safe decision, and they may have to choose which enemies they can afford to make. Taking a stand, whether by speaking up, contributing to causes or withholding funding from politicians as punishment, can have consequences.

Tension between businesses and politicians may intensify. Disney's recent battles with Ron DeSantis, Florida's Republican governor, over a law prohibiting discussion of gender identity in some public schools cost the company its special tax privileges and good will from key Republicans. Last year, companies that stood up for voting rights in Georgia, Florida, Texas and other states faced political retribution, or at least threats of it. As companies take stances on social and cultural issues that anger people on the right, conservative politicians are spurning their contributions and pushing back. Expect more of these conflicts.

This article was written by New York Times staff writers Andrew Ross Sorkin, Vivian Giang, Stephen Gandel, Lauren Hirsch, Ephrat Livni, David F. Gallagher, Jenny Gross and Anna Schaverien.

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