How are Texas businesses going to react to the forthcoming criminalization of abortion?

It’s too soon to say. Certainly too soon for most of them to say.

In overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court presented corporate America with a question that may prove uncomfortable for big companies headquartered in states such as Texas, where abortion has effectively been banned.

Several national companies — including Disney, Goldman Sachs, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook — reacted the Dobbs v Jackson ruling handed down Friday by announcing that they would reimburse the cost of employees who need to travel out of state to access abortion care. Companies including Apple, Amazon, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, SalesForce, Bumble and Levi’s had already announced similar policies, in anticipation of such a ruling or after draconian restrictions on abortion were adopted by states such as Texas, which last year banned virtually all abortions after the six-week mark of pregnancy.

But many Houston companies have not been forthcoming about whether they will modify their benefits to help employees get access to reproductive health services.

“We do not have a comment on this issue,” said Kinder Morgan, contacted by the Houston Chronicle on Monday.

“We decline to contribute at this time,” said EOG Services, an oil and gas company.

“We have no comment on this,” said Hines, the real estate firm.


Experts say no Texas laws prohibit companies from paying for travel for abortion services. A 2017 state law limits the extent to which conventional insurance companies can cover elective abortion, but makes no mention of travel.

“I don’t see they currently have liability if they pay for travel expenses for a lawful, out-of-state abortion,” said Seth J. Chandler, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

Whether companies decide to pay for travel expenses may have something to do with how it will affect their ability to attract talent, Chandler said.

“There is an issue of how you would attract employees, if there is a type of health care they perceive they may need is illegal,” Chandler said. “One vehicle for companies to overcome that reluctance is to say, ‘We’ll pay for your travel.’”

It’s not clear to me that they wouldn’t face civil litigation under the vigilante provisions of SB8, but even if they don’t, the Handmaid’s Tale caucus of the legislature will be working to change that.

Several companies have already announced they would cover expenses for an employee who has to travel for an abortion, including Walt Disney Co., Meta and JPMorgan Chase.

Those companies could be punished under the “accomplice liability” section of Texas, which applies to all residents and, according to Cain, also businesses.

“So, it also not just goes after the doctors, but it’s going to be going after those giving rides, supporting it, procuring the means, assisting, anybody that is an accomplice to the procurement of an abortion is also then committing a crime,” the Republican said.

That of course is chief woman hater Briscoe Cain, who says in the story that prosecuting “abortion crimes” is one of his top priorities. Let’s get real, it’s his main driving force. If Briscoe Cain gets his way, a whole lot of people are going to go to jail. That’s the reality we’re in right now.

There are a couple of ways that businesses can respond. They can cower and submit to the likes of Cain, and throw a bunch of their employees under the bus in the process. They can get the hell out of Texas or not come here in the first place; I suspect some will do that, though it’s hard to say how many. Allowing some employees to not live here would be another variant of this. I hope we get some real data and not just anecdotes about that.

And of course, they can fight. They can support candidates who support abortion rights, and other things that SCOTUS and the radicals that are currently in power are threatening, like same sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. That would be a huge change on their part, because keeping their heads down and not offending the powers that be is always the easier road to take. But it has the potential to have by far the biggest effect. It’s a choice they have, that’s all I’m saying. Providing expenses for employees who have to travel out of state to get reproductive health care is a reasonable choice as a short-term stopgap. But there’s only so long that can work. They can’t avoid the choice forever.

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8 Responses to How are Texas businesses going to react to the forthcoming criminalization of abortion?

  1. John says:

    Can’t imagine being a recruiter at an Austin tech company trying to attract talent from out of state right now.

  2. C.L. says:

    I can’t imagine being an employee of a company who, when faced with what may be the most difficult and entirely private decision of her life, has to ask the employer if they’re willing to provide funds to travel out of State to have an abortion.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Depending on benefits a company may offer, it might make good business sense to pay for a first class out of state abortion experience for pregnant employees. If the alternative is paid maternity leave, along with the disruption for the business by having to pay again to cover an employee who is out for months, then a lump sum to just get rid of the baby would seem to be cheaper and less disruptive to the business, and that’s before we even talk about any subsidy the company offers for medical insurance for a new baby. Then there’s the loss of productivity as a new parent who has returned to the workforce will inevitably have distractions. Did the sitter not show up? Is the baby sick? Doctor’s appointments for the baby? An employee will perform better without those kinds of distractions and absences, thus, a one and done payout up front could be much cheaper for a company, vs. allowing the baby to be born.

    In times past, employers were reticent to hire women of marriage and child rearing age, fearful of spending the money to train them, only to see them get married, have kids, and leave the work force. Of course, that conduct by an employer is illegal today, but this might just be the next best thing in terms of a workaround, paying for out of state abortions.

  4. policywonqueria says:


    Company-sponsored (-urged, -funding, -pressured) sterilization would be even more cost-effective. Would avoid repeat bonus payments for abortion tourism to keep the workforce childfree.

    Sadly, the coathanger-warriors — in their blinding fervor — haven’t thought this through.

    Namely: How this is extremely anti-family on top of invasive to employee privacy, and how it torpedoes every society’s imperative need to reproduce itself to remain viable in the long run. –> replacement fertility rate.

    Family policy and labor advocates of all stripes should be abhorred that employers will get to pressure (incentivize) female workers not to have kids for greater company profit – as opposed to being supportive of child-having and child-rearing, and raising the next generation.

  5. C.L. says:

    “Family policy and labor advocates of all stripes should be abhorred that employers will get to pressure (incentivize) female workers not to have kids for greater company profit – as opposed to being supportive of child-having and child-rearing, and raising the next generation.”

    Wow. Where did that come from ? That’s some weird pro-life/anti-choice shit right there.

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    It will not be a problem. Just like all of the moaning you guys did over the HERO ordinance. Not an issue for future business.

  7. Kibitzer Curiae says:





    relators’ emergency motion for temporary relief, granted in part
    stay order issued

    Relators’ emergency motion for temporary relief, filed June 29, 2022, is granted in part. The temporary restraining order, dated June 28, 2022, in Cause No. 2022-38397, styled Whole Woman’s Health, et al. v. Ken Paxton, et al., in the 269th District Court of Harris County, Texas, is stayed as to Relators only pending further order of this Court. The parties are directed to submit briefing by 5 p.m. July 7, 2022 regarding whether the 269th District Court of Harris County, Texas, has jurisdiction to enjoin the enforcement of a criminal statute. See State v. Morales, 869 S.W.3d 941 (Tex. 1994). Real parties in interest are requested to respond to relators’ petition for writ of mandamus by 5 p.m. July 11, 2022. This order does not preclude further proceedings in the court of appeals and district court, including proceedings to address the jurisdictional issue described in paragraph 2 above. The Court is confident that those courts will proceed expeditiously.

    [Note: The petition for writ of mandamus remains pending before this Court.]


    This is interesting not just for the attention-paying segment of the public, but for appellate nerds.

    The SCOTX questions the jurisdiction of the Harris County District Court (Judge Weems) regarding the enjoining of a criminal law (in a civil proceeding), but not its own (implicitly exercising jurisdiction by imposing a stay order rather than merely saying that the TRO is or appears to be void for lack of jurisdiction).

    But the SCOTX is the court of last resort for civil matters only (the criminal matters go to the Court of Criminal Appeals), while the district courts are courts of general jurisdiction, even when they are assigned civil priority in multi-district counties, such as Harris County (which has multiple district courts each in the Civil, Criminal (felony), Family, and Juvenile divisions).

    So, the underlying theory probably is that the SCOTX exercises original mandamus jurisdiction because the underlying case is technically a civil case seeking injunctive & declaratory relief against state officials, even though what’s really at issue is the enforceability of a criminal law by criminal AND civil law enforcement officials (DAs, state regulators, and AG). But the stay doesn’t affect the DAs because they didn’t join as Relators in the mandamus to the SCOTX or file their own petition.

    As a practical matter, this dispute is now being punted back to the lower courts to address the jurisdiction issue next week, if not earlier, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, rather than the SCOTX deciding it for them immediately. The grant of the TRO of course implies that the district court assumed or concluded that “it” (the judge is typically called an it, rather than a he/she/they) possessed jurisdiction over the controversy presented and that injunctive relief could therefore be granted (or denied for non-jurisdictional reasons, for that matter).

    Lingo note:

    Relators = those seeking relief against the trial court judge in the higher court(s)
    Real Parties in Interest = opposing parties in whose favor the challenged order (here TRO) was granted, i.e. the plaintiffs.

    Other Defendants that did not go to the SCOTEX as Relators:

    Jose Garza, in his official capacity as District Attorney for Travis County
    Joe Gonzales, in his official capacity as District Attorney for Bexar County
    Kim Ogg, in his official capacity as District Attorney for Harris County
    John Creuzot, in his official capacity as District Attorney for Dallas County
    Sharon Wilson, in his official capacity as District Attorney for Tarrant County
    Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr., in his official capacity as District Attorney for Hidalgo
    Greg Wilson, in his official capacity as District Attorney for Collin County

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