Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan consider covering abortion travel expenses for employees

May 5, 2022, 5:20 PM UTC

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are discussing extending abortion benefits to cover travel after an internal debate was reignited this week by the leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The finance giants could follow the lead of Citigroup Inc. and pay travel expenses for employees seeking to end pregnancies away from states with restrictive abortion laws, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Some senior leaders remain wary of the growing criticism by Republican lawmakers. 

The move has consequences across Wall Street and beyond as corporate America struggles to balance employee demands with the risk of political backlash. Late Monday, Politico reported that a draft Supreme Court opinion would overturn the Roe decision that legalized abortion throughout the U.S. five decades ago—a draft the court later said was authentic but not final. Polls have shown the unpopularity of overturning Roe, which has given some Wall Street firms cover to act even as much of the business world remained silent after Texas last year passed one of the nation’s most restrictive laws on abortion. 

“If there’s a silver lining of this leak, it’s that it’s pushed corporate America into getting its house in order before it’s too late,” said Jen Stark, the incoming co-director of the Center for Business and Social Justice, where she’ll work with corporations on health issues. On Wall Street, she said, Citigroup’s early move will pay off. “They caught the heat. But now they’re a step ahead.”

A spokeswoman for Goldman declined to comment. A person involved with the discussion said the bank is reviewing its policies and the impact a Supreme Court ruling may have on state laws and health care choice. A JPMorgan representative also declined to comment.

At New York-based Goldman, a key consideration has been to avoid upsetting politicians on the right, who’ve increasingly sought to exact commercial punishment on companies taking left-leaning stances on social issues.

Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. lender after JPMorgan, will evaluate whether to make changes if Roe is overturned. The company isn’t preparing to decide until then, Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday.

Citigroup said in March that it’s starting to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions after several states including Texas implemented or proposed a near-total ban. CEO Jane Fraser said in April that her company’s decision was based on longstanding company policy, and wasn’t intended as a political statement. “Our practice has also been to make sure our employees have the same health coverage no matter where in the U.S. they live,” Fraser said at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting.

A conservative Texas lawmaker warned Citigroup that the New York-based company could be barred from underwriting municipal bonds and that bank officers and employees could face criminal prosecution unless the firm backs off its policy. Last month, Republican members of Congress called for the cancellation of U.S. government contracts with Citigroup, which provides the credit cards that members of the U.S. House of Representatives use to pay for flights, supplies and other goods.

This week, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduced a bill to remove tax breaks for “woke corporations.” The bill would prohibit employers from deducting expenses related to their employees’ abortion-travel costs.

—With assistance from Hannah Levitt, Jenny Surane and Katherine Doherty.

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