Levi Strauss will pay for employees to travel for abortion care

Levi Strauss joins other firms like Amazon and Apple in offering employees travel reimbursement

Crowd marches through LA for abortion rights protest

American apparel company Levi Strauss & Co has joined a growing list of organisations pledging to support their employees as the US Supreme Court is set to announce a verdict that could overturn the Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion rights.

Levi Strauss & Co on Wednesday expanded its current medical benefits to allow reimbursment of travel expenses for full and part time employees who would need to travel to other states for health care services, including those pertaining to abortion.

“Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights,” the company said in a statement.

“Under our current benefits plan, Levi Strauss & Co employees are eligible for reimbursement for healthcare-related travel expenses for services not available in their home state, including those related to reproductive health care and abortion,” it added.

Many other US companies, including Amazon, Apple, HP and Yelp, are offering similar benefits amid growing anger over the Supreme Court’s forthcoming final ruling on the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case that legalised rights to abortion.

The upcoming decision has dominated headlines and stirred protests because a draft of a Supreme Court majority opinion on the decision had leaked on Monday that suggested the conservative-controlled court is poised to overturn the 1973 ruling.

A final ruling, however, is not expected until late June or July.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito wrote in the document obtained by Politico, labelled as the “Opinion of the Court”.

The nearly 100-pages-long draft also added: “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Levi Strauss has pushed back against the potential restriction on women’s reproductive rights, by saying restriction or criminalisation of access to women to abortion will “jeopardise that progress and disproportionately affect women of colour, putting their well-being at risk and impeding diverse hiring pipelines”.

“Women in some states would have fewer rights than women in others, and our country would be consigned to a more unjust and inequitable future,” it added.

Moreover, companies would need to have different health policies for different locations – including coverage for time off and travel across state lines – to ensure employees can access reproductive health care.

If the ruling goes forward and Roe v Wade is overturned, the law to access abortion will be left to individual states’ discretion, unless Congress codifies the right on a national level.

Amazon, the US’s second-largest private employer, has told employees it will cover up to $4,000 in travel expenses yearly for non-life threatening medical treatments, with elective abortions among them.

Yelp, an online review platform, said it will cover expenses for its employees and dependents who need to travel to another state for abortion services starting from May.

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