Walmart Expands Abortion Coverage for Employees

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, is expanding its abortion coverage for employees after remaining largely mum on the issue following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the nation’s right to abortion.

In a memo sent to employees Friday, the company said its health care plans will now cover abortion for employees “when there is a risk to the mother’s health, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of viability of the fetus”.

Previously, the company’s benefit plan covered abortion only in cases “where the mother’s health would be at risk if the fetus terminated, the fetus could not survive the birth process, or death was imminent after birth.” in a copy of the policy seen by The Associated Press but not confirmed by Walmart.

Donna Morris, the retailer’s chief people officer, said in a memo to staff that the new policy will also offer “travel support” to employees seeking abortions covered by health care plans — as well as their dependents — to they have access to services that are not available within 100 miles of their locations.

Walmart employs nearly 1.6 million people in the U.S. In Arkansas, where the company is based, abortion is prohibited under any circumstances unless the procedure is necessary to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. That means under the revised policy, Walmart employees can travel out of state — or any other state that bans abortion for rape and incest — to get the procedure through the retailer’s health plans.

Several companies — including Meta, American Express and Bank of America — have said they will cover travel expenses for their employees following the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, including on elective abortions. However, a Walmart representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether any of the company’s revised policy would cover elective abortions.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but it just doesn’t go far enough for a company that employs so many women,” said Bianca Agustin, corporate accountability program director for United for Respect, a group that supports Walmart workers. He said the agency would include “safe abortion” for employees in its list of demands, pushing the company for better pay and benefits.

Meanwhile, many other companies and organizations representing some of the nation’s most powerful corporations have continued to remain silent on the issue.

Walmart’s cautious expansion of its abortion policy shows it is trying to balance different pressures and views from employees, investors and other stakeholders, said Vanessa Burbano, a professor at Columbia University’s business school who studies how companies take social stances.

“It’s a lot harder than a lot of people initially think it is,” Burbano said. “It’s not like all of their stakeholders have the same opinion on any of these issues, which makes it so difficult. They’re trying to figure out how to thread that needle.”

In the memo sent Friday, the company said it will also start a center that provides fertility services to employees, such as IVF. In addition, she promised to add support for surrogacy and increase her financial assistance for adoptions from $5,000 to $20,000. In June, Walmart said it would expand its offering to doulas — or people who help women during pregnancy — to address racial disparities in maternal care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.