I am an Idaho employer. Here’s why I cover out-of-state abortion care for our employees.
The leaked opinion of the United States Supreme Court was a blow to me. Knowing the makeup of the Supreme Court and seeing abortion rights eroded locally and nationally, I was not surprised.
My home state of Idaho has a trigger law that would make all abortions illegal when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. When my government calls me incapable of making my own reproductive health decisions, it makes me want to move myself and my business elsewhere, despite the fact that my family has lived there for four generations.
I can’t change what SCOTUS decides, so I decided to take immediate action in areas where I have some control. I donated money to a reproductive healthcare organization I trust. I’ve donated to political candidates who believe, like me, that abortion should remain safe, legal, and only in the hands of those facing the decision. I also amended my company’s employee handbook to include a new policy that covers out-of-state travel expenses for employees who need abortion care and can no longer access abortion care in their condition.
The ability to take actions like these comes from having some power over my life. Upper middle class women like me will always find a way to get an abortion if we need it. We are also more likely to have health care and have access to birth control, which makes the need for an abortion less likely. And, of course, if you have economic security, you may be more inclined to bring a child into the world because you can take care of it.
Public health Data show that abortion bans and restrictions have a disproportionate impact on women with incomes below the federal poverty level, women in their twenties, and black women. Like racism, our society has made abortion a difficult subject to discuss. In the political demonization of abortion, the nuances of individual circumstances get lost in the righteous rhetoric of conservatives eager to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing politicians to decide what’s best for the rest of us. They don’t think of the woman who already has a 6-year-old child and has recovered from the (gendered) disruptions of pregnancy and childbirth caused in her career. Now she’s 40 and has finally landed her dream job, and she knows she will pay an economic price if she pursues an unplanned pregnancy.
The realities around abortion include people (especially those aged 15-19) who do not know they are pregnant until after six weeks of gestation, particularly if they have irregular periods or a history of infertility. The black or white political nature of abortion disregards what a SCOTUS ruling followed by Idaho’s trigger ban will mean for those undergoing IVF therapy, those with a history of miscarriage or those in abusive relationships. He certainly does not respect doctors who care for people of diverse backgrounds and circumstances and who take an oath to do no harm.
It’s strange to me that in Idaho they seem to care more about fetuses than live babies. Nationally, Idaho ranks last in public spending on education. There is still no public pre-kindergarten and families, including mine, struggle to access affordable, quality childcare and often depend on caregivers. There is no paid parental leave in Idaho unless your employer is kind enough to offer it. Health care is determined by your insurance policy, which is also in the hands of your (hopefully) benevolent boss.
In light of the impending SCOTUS decision, I hope others in the Idaho business community will open their checkbooks to protect abortion rights and change internal policies however they can to support their employees who will inevitably flee the state to access abortion care and avoid forced pregnancies.
Although not everyone has had an abortion, we all love someone who has. It is an extremely complicated and private decision made for someone’s health, livelihood and well-being. Abortion access deserves the respect and protection of employers, especially when our state fails to provide it.