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Starbucks says it will cover travel expenses for employees seeking abortions

Amid concerns about shrinking abortion rights, Starbucks joins a small group of companies protecting employees' access to fundamental healthcare.

Starbucks says it will cover travel expenses for employees seeking abortions
Image Source: Starbucks Announces Permanent Closure Of Hundreds Of Its Stores. CORTE MADERA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 10. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Across the United States, citizens have expressed concerns over shrinking access to abortion, a critical part of healthcare. Amid worries that the Supreme Court will likely soon overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade judgment, Starbucks has announced that it would reimburse travel expenses for any and all employees who need abortions but cannot access them within 100 miles of their homes. This makes the company part of a small group of firms that have moved to protect employee abortion access, The New York Times reports. The announcement was shared with employees in a memo on Monday morning, temporarily assuaging their concerns.


Sara Kelly, the company’s acting vice president for partner resources, affirmed in the memo, "I know this is weighing on many of you, so let me be clear upfront. Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare." She claimed she was "deeply concerned" reading the Supreme Court draft opinion, obtained this month by Politico, that could potentially strike down the 1973 abortion ruling. Other companies that have agreed to support employees seeking abortions include Yelp, Citigroup and Tesla. However, while some have announced plans to cover transportation costs for employees in need of abortions, most companies and business leaders have remained mum.


Starbucks declined to share how many employees it had in Texas and other states that are expected to ban abortions faster than their more liberal counterparts if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Nonetheless, the company does employ a large workforce: 240,000 employees across almost 9,000 company-operated stores in the United States. According to the company, its decision to cover travel costs for employees to get abortions only added to its already exhaustive healthcare benefits. These benefits include insurance coverage for gender-affirming care as well as costs associated with surrogacy, adoption and fertility treatments.


On Monday, Starbucks also shared that it would cover travel expenses for gender-affirming care for employees who cannot get it near their homes, as lawmakers introduce anti-trans legislation across the country. Starbucks has not yet determined precisely when the travel reimbursements for abortions will take effect, thought it's expected that they will begin shortly. According to a study by Pew Research, Starbucks’ customers and workers tend to be more liberal. This has led to the escalating union drive underway at more than 250 stores of the franchise.


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