YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks out on Roe v Wade: ‘Reproductive rights are human rights, this will be a big setback for women’
As American women grapple their constitutional right to abortion being revoked, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki addressed the issue in a chat with Fortune at Davos in late May.
Earlier that month, a leaked document spilled details of a draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed the constitutional protection of abortion rights in the United States. The Supreme Court officially issued its decision overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the document. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Speaking to Fortune Editor-in-Chief, Alyson Shontell, at the World Economic Forum, Wojcicki candidly weighed in on the then-potential overturning of Roe v Wade.
“My stance is that women should have a choice when they become a mother, I believe that’s really important,” she said.
“I believe reproductive rights are human rights, and to take away a law and a right that we’ve had for almost 50 years will be a big setback for women.”
However, Wojcicki clarified that this was her personal view, not the view of YouTube or parent company Alphabet.
“Running a company that really focuses on free speech, we want to make sure that we’re enabling a broad set of opinions, that everyone has a right to express their point of view provided they meet our community guidelines.”
She added that it was YouTube’s goal to speak up on issues that matter to its employees and user base – but noted that “this is a decision that’s out of our hands.”
“This is going to have dramatic implications. We haven’t spoken internally at a high level but we’re waiting to see what the final draft is and take the necessary steps to comply,” Wojcicki said.
It would also create challenges for YouTube in terms of misinformation, she added, for example if the platform was used to say abortion wasn’t legally allowed in a state when it was.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Corporate America has largely stayed quiet on the decision, with many of the country’s biggest firms not stating explicitly where they stood on whether Roe v Wade should stand.
Some companies, including Yelp, Bumble and Ben & Jerry’s, have spoken out against the overturning of the ruling, while a handful of prominent corporate figures, including Meta’s Sheryl Sandberg and Virgin founder Richard Branson have defended Roe v Wade.
Meanwhile, many companies, including Amazon, Citigroup and Apple, have updated their healthcare and benefits packages for employees to include travel expenses that may arise if workers need to travel to access abortions.
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