How Starbucks Is Responding To The Overturning Of Roe V. Wade

Starbucks has joined an expanding group of companies who are pledging to financially assist employees in receiving abortion services if they live in a state where the procedure is banned or severely restricted. According to CNN, the Seattle-based coffee giant is the only major restaurant chain to offer such a benefit, though tech and entertainment brands including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, HP, Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Comcast-Universal, as well as yogurt manufacturer Chobani, have all pledged similar support. While policy and specific financial amounts vary, the companies have all promised to reimburse travel expenses incurred by employees who have had to travel access abortion services.

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which, under the pretenses of protecting an individual's right to privacy, ensured the right to receive abortion services throughout the United States. The ruling will send the decision back to the states; 18 of which The Guardian estimates will immediately ban or severely restrict access to the procedure, despite CNN reporting that nearly 60% of the country opposes the Court's decision.

No guarantees for unions

Starbucks issued a statement in May after Politico leaked the a draft of the court's ultimate ruling. The statement read that Starbucks would be offering reimbursements for travel expenses for employees and dependents covered by the company's health insurance who need to go more than 100 miles to obtain abortion services or gender-affirming care banned by their states of residence.

According to the Daily Dot, the policy has caused some confusion and anger as the company, which has been embroiled in conflicts with employees seeking to unionize, has said that it "cannot make promises or guarantees about any benefits" for unionized stores. Some fear that this means that the company is looking to punish unionized employees by withholding extended health benefits. In an updated statement, Starbucks emphasized that the benefit will be on the table for all employees entering into "good faith negotiations," according to the Daily Dot. However, each union will have to bargain with the company individually, so they cannot ensure that the bargainers for each store would not potentially trade it for something else.

Abortion reimbursements are now available to covered employees and their families while the company is still working out the details for how to provide funds for gender-affirming care.