Starbucks announced on Monday that it would reimburse travel expenses for employees who need abortions and cannot get them within 100 miles of their homes, joining the small group of companies that have moved to protect employee abortion access as the Supreme Court appears likely to soon overturn Roe v. Wade.
Sara Kelly, the company’s acting vice president for partner resources, said she was “deeply concerned” reading the Supreme Court draft opinion, obtained this month by Politico, that would strike down the 1973 abortion ruling.
“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 health care,” Ms. Kelly wrote in a memo to Starbucks employees on Monday.
Starbucks is among a handful of companies, including Yelp, Citigroup and Tesla, that have announced plans to cover transportation costs for employees in need of abortions. Most companies and business leaders, though, have stayed quiet since the Supreme Court’s draft opinion was leaked.
According to findings from Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, the average distance to an abortion provider would increase by 97 miles, to 122 miles from 25 miles, if Roe is overturned.
Starbucks has 240,000 employees and nearly 9,000 company-operated stores in the United States. The company declined to share how many employees it had in Texas and other states that will ban abortions quickly if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
Starbucks said its decision to cover travel costs for employees to get abortions added to its already expansive health care benefits, which include insurance coverage for gender-affirming care and costs associated with surrogacy, adoption and fertility treatments. The company said on Monday that it would also begin to 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’s customers and workers tend to be more liberal, something that experts suggest has contributed to the growing union drive underway at more than 250 stores.
Starbucks has not determined precisely when the travel reimbursements for abortions will take effect.