Business finally speaks out in support of abortion rights in Texas

Companies say Texas's six-week abortion ban is bad for business.

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This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The WNBA has a new retail partner, few female leaders address the UN General Assembly, and business is finally speaking out for abortion rights. Have a great Wednesday.

– Don’t Ban Equality, take two. It took almost a month, but business is speaking out about Texas’s abortion ban. Yesterday, more than 50 companies signed an updated version of the “Don’t Ban Equality” letter that argues that abortion restrictions are bad for business. (Companies first signed onto the statement amid a rash of state anti-abortion legislation in 2019.)

Signees agree that they “stand against policies that hinder people’s health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace.” The companies that signed onto this letter fall into a few buckets. Most are startups or relatively small companies; many are female-led; and several compelled to speak out this time around are based in Texas or have a significant presence in the state. There’s Austin-based Bumble and OJO Labs; tech companies like Stitch Fix, Box, and Lyft; and women-led brands like Glossier and Madewell.

Still missing from the group? The biggest of Big Tech. (Read more from Bloomberg about why that is and what those companies have done—or not—instead.)

So what can the voices of these businesses accomplish in the battle to preserve abortion rights? To drive home the gravity of the Texas legislation, the group notes the damage to the state so far. “The economic losses from existing abortion restrictions, including labor force impact and earnings, already cost the State of Texas an estimated $14.5 billion annually. Nationally, state-level restrictions cost state economies $105 billion dollars per year,” the letter says, citing data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Data like that is compelling—but it hasn’t been enough so far to prevent GOP lawmakers from pursuing this kind of legislation. Organizers told the WSJ that, more than just Texas, they hope the letter signals to other states considering similar bans that companies are ready to take their business elsewhere.

While the business case against abortion bans likely won’t turn back the clock on the current status of reproductive rights in Texas, these public statements do mean something. The Texas law took so many business leaders by surprise that, for weeks, their silence was notable. These companies aren’t staying silent anymore—and that’s a start.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


– Slam dunk. Dick’s Sporting Goods is deepening its connection to female athletes. The chain signed a multiyear deal with the WNBA as the league’s retail and merchandise partner, selling items like team jerseys. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert praised Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart for displaying “inclusive leadership in action” through the deal. Fortune

– The risk of Ring. Ring, the smart doorbell business owned by Amazon, has marketed itself to police departments and others as a tool to combat domestic violence. But experts warn that surveillance handled by law enforcement and a private company with a “patchy record on privacy” isn’t the solution survivors of domestic abuse need. MIT Technology Review

– All assembled? On the first day of the UN General Assembly in New York, we heard from few female leaders. Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová was the only female world leader to speak in front of her peers yesterday morning, although more are slated to address the group today. CNN

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Merit Janow, lead independent director for Mastercard, is slated to become the board’s chair on Jan. 1. Diya Jolly, chief product officer for Okta, joins the board of ServiceTitan. Jellyfish hired Joanne Cheng as CFO. 


– Status quo. In Canada’s elections this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held onto his government—including his deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland. Freeland had faced challenger Nicole Robicheau, but kept her seat in an election that mostly preserved the status quo. Minister for women and gender equality Maryam Monsef, however, lost her seat. CTV News

– Last week. Germany’s election is fast-approaching this weekend, and with it, the end of Angela Merkel’s 16 years in office. Read more on the milestone and Merkel’s legacy in the Economist piece “After Merkel” or this Guardian story about the two sides of Merkel’s legacy on Germany’s refugee crisis. 

– Act two. Bruna Papandrea produced Big Little Lies and Gone Girl with Reese Witherspoon, before the two went their separate ways. Now Papandrea’s new company Made Up Stories is behind Nine Perfect Strangers, which Hulu says is its most-watched original series. New York Times


It’s time to retire the phrase ‘working mom’ Romper

The prosecution rests its case against R. Kelly as sex trafficking trial nears end Jezebel

The pandemic put many pregnancy plans on hold. Some women aren’t waiting anymore WSJ


“We’re all having to shift right now but still trying to create art through this process.”

-Nicole Kidman on working through the pandemic. She’s on the October cover of Harper’s Bazaar.