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Business could get upended in 26 states now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Here’s what it could look like

May 3, 2022, 5:42 PM UTC

The Supreme Court has overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that protected abortion rights nationwide.  

The ruling has been expected since a majority Supreme Court opinion on the case was leaked by Politico in May, and later confirmed as authentic by the justices. But now that the ruling is official, abortion bans in at least 13 U.S. states could begin immediately. But 26 states are “certain or likely” to quickly ban abortion, with changes in abortion according to according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization seeking to advance reproductive health rights.

Such a widespread reversal of laws protecting abortion rights will be a defining moment for the U.S., and it is likely to dramatically affect how companies conduct business across the country. 

Where will the ruling take effect?

When Roe was overturned on June 24, 13 states had already passed “trigger laws” related to abortion. These are preemptive abortion bans that are not being enforced right now, but will now be “triggered” by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade to begin taking effect. Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, abortion will immediately become illegal in these states.

Those states are Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a global pro-choice research organization that focuses on sexual health and reproductive rights. 

But according to the institute, 26 states in total are “certain or likely” to outlaw abortion now that Roe v. Wade has been struck down.

In addition to the 13 states that have trigger laws, an additional five states have laws in place that ban abortions after six or eight weeks, but do not have total abortion bans yet. These states, which include Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina, have not implemented any trigger laws, but have expressed an intent to ramp up bans as soon as federal limitations on abortion are lifted, according to the institute. Many people are unaware that they are even pregnant at six weeks. 

Another four states—Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona, and Michigan—had abortion bans in place before 1973 that were never removed, and are for now only unenforced. With Roe now overturned, those bans could now become enforceable. 

One more state, Oklahoma, signed a bill into law in April that outright bans abortion except when the procedure is performed to save the life of the mother. Oklahoma’s new abortion law will likely take effect this summer.

The institute also identified four states—Florida, Montana, Indiana, and Nebraska—where recent political history indicates that stricter abortion laws are likely to be enacted now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

With Roe falling, the changes will be swift, and the business world may be forced to take a stand.

How business could react

As various states institute abortion bans, the average American would have to travel 125 miles to reach the nearest clinic that offers an abortion, 100 miles further than today, according to data compiled in 2021 by the Myers Abortion Facility Database.

The changes in abortion laws could also see employees begin asking for relocations, which businesses will have to react to, and some companies have already adjusted their policies to compensate for these changes in people’s lives ever since Politico leaked the opinion report last month.

After the Supreme Court leak, Amazon announced that it would reimburse employees who had to travel over 100 miles to seek medical treatment for reproductive health issues. This year, in response to restrictive state abortion laws, companies including Yelp, Apple, and Citigroup announced that they would begin covering travel expenses for employees traveling out of state seeking reproductive care.

These types of employee benefits may become the norm for most companies now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Many growing economic hotspots, like Texas, Arizona, and Utah, are also in states that are likely to ban abortion now.

When stricter abortion laws have been enacted in the past, companies have generally responded by expanding protections for employees.

A strict abortion law in Texas last September that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy caused outcry from the business world. Some companies based in Texas or with a large presence there, including Bumble, OJO Labs, and Glossier, spoke out against the new law and announced policies designed to help employees affected by it.

Lyft and Uber promised to cover drivers’ legal fees in the case of a lawsuit, after the Texas law began permitting citizens to sue drivers who provide women rides to abortion clinics. Software company Salesforce promised to help employees in Texas relocate to another state if they were concerned about their ability to find reproductive care. Online dating sites Bumble and Match also set up special funds to support employees affected by the ban.

June 24, 2022: This story has been updated to reflect that the Supreme Court has overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

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