The literal cost of overturning Roe v. Wade One of the most seismic, yet overlooked, impacts of overturning Roe will be the constrains on our economic freedoms.

 Friday's Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson has effectively overturned Roe v. Wade, paving the way for upwards of 26 states to ban abortion care. There will be countless negative implications of this devastating blow to bodily autonomy. But one of the most seismic, yet overlooked, will be the constraints on economic freedoms.

Bodily autonomy interacts with self-determination across society, including the economy.

Bodily autonomy interacts with self-determination across society, including the economy. When workers of any gender don’t have a voice or control over their lives, they are disempowered in the labor market, too — and this can have a negative effect on the American economy writ large.

An amicus brief led by Caitlin Knowles Myers of Middlebury College and signed by 154 economists, including myself, details how abortion care strengthens economic security.

But to understand how, we must first remember how much the U.S. economy has changed since the 1973 Roe decision. The labor market has been plagued by stagnating wages, a decline of good quality jobs and stymied economic growth as corporate power prioritized shareholder value and outsized profit rates. One major factor in these trends has been the precipitous loss of worker power from the decline of unions and weak social infrastructure that would give workers better outside options, such as adequate unemployment insurance, healthcare, and paid family and medical leave.

An economy where workers don’t have power is also one rife with market failures. Declining worker power has exacerbated monopsony, where workers are paid less than the value they create. This then distorts the economy, as it suffers from deadweight loss and operates under its potential. In this way, giving workers more power over their lives and jobs is corrective; when the economy is balanced to give workers more power, economic outcomes improve.

The link between bodily autonomy and economic opportunity is likely intuitive to anyone who can get pregnant. In the 49 years that women have had a legal right to an abortion, they have had greater assurance and control over when and whether to start a family, allowing them to better share in economic growth. This is because planning one’s family shapes one’s deployment of skills and interests, and research shows how abortion access expansion in the 1970s was directly linked to increased educational attainment, greater labor force participation, and higher earnings.

Conversely, state restrictions on abortion since Roe have limited the ability of people to make decisions about childbearing. My own research has looked at how targeted restrictions on abortion providers, known as TRAP laws, had the inverse effect on women’s career paths. In states with TRAP laws, women are less likely to go into higher-paying occupations year over year, even when controlling for other factors such as education and local economic conditions. Not being able to switch jobs is not only bad for workers and their families but also for businesses and the greater economy: A lack of dynamism can potentially reduce overall economic productivity when there is a misallocation of talent.

The leaked opinion tried to argue that abortion access has been detrimental to Black communities. In addition to removing Black women’s agency, this claim ignores that research shows the opposite.

On top of this, in a labor market marred by racial and gender discrimination, bodily autonomy is an especially relevant economic issue for women of color. The leaked opinion tried to argue that abortion access has been detrimental to Black communities. In addition to removing Black women’s agency, this claim ignores that research shows the opposite: bodily autonomy is even more critical for Black women and other women of color. For example, economists Kelly Jones and Marya Pineda-Torres found that living in a TRAP law state prior to age 18 reduced the likelihood that Black women were able to start and finish a college degree, inevitably limiting opportunities for economic security.

Thankfully, high-profile union organizing drives happening right now are increasingly shaping the economic debate. Unions have long been a powerful force in mitigating economic disparities by gender and race; just one example is how union membership is associated with support for policies that improve social and economic conditions in Black communities.

Unions can continue this important tradition by centering reproductive rights in their labor platforms to advocate for workers’ access to abortion care in their communities, with coverage from employers. In a polarized post-Roe America, it may be our best source of hope.

Google sent a companywide email Friday about the historic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, explaining employees in affected states can apply for relocation without explaining why.

“This is a profound change for the country that deeply affects so many of us, especially women,” wrote Google Chief People officer Fiona Cicconi in an email to workers, viewed by CNBC. “Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation.”

The note doesn’t say how many requests the company would approve and makes no promises. The company is still in the process of assigning relocations for employees who don’t want to come back into their assigned physical office due to the company’s return-to-office policy, which began in April.

Google has more than 30 locations across the U.S.

Cicconi also said it will be providing “support sessions” to employees in the coming days.

Google’s statement comes as corporations around the country, including Amazon and Meta, say they are will pay for employees to travel to receive abortions if they are in states where it is banned after the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, rolling back the federal right to receive an abortion.

When the ruling first leaked, Google said it would provide travel benefits for employees seeking abortion care out of state. The company’s U.S. benefits plan and health insurance plan for full-time employees cover out-of-state medical producers that are not available where an employee lives and works, Cicconi added in the memo.

When CNBC reached out for comment Friday morning, a spokesperson said the company had nothing to add. It has not responded to requests for comment on Cicconi’s email or relocation details.

The company has also not responded to requests for comment on whether it will comply with potential law enforcement requests for data related to users. Last month, a group of 42 Democratic lawmakers urged the Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a letter to stop collecting and keeping unnecessary or non-aggregated location data that could be used to identify people seeking abortions.

Here’s the full memo from Google chief people officer Fiona Cicconi:

Hi everyone, 

This morning the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that rolls back Roe v. Wade.

This is a profound change for the country that deeply affects so many of us, especially women. Everyone will respond in their own way, whether that’s wanting space and time to process, speaking up, volunteering outside of work, not wanting to discuss it at all, or something else entirely. Please be mindful of what your co-worker may be feeling and, as always, treat each other with respect. 

Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives and careers. We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.

To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance cover out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee live and works. Googlers can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation. If you need additional support, please connect 1:1 with a People Consultant.

We will be arranging support sessions for Googlers in the US in the coming days. These will be posted to Googler News.

Please don’t hesitate to lean on your Google community in the days ahead and continue to take good care of yourselves and each other.

Before Alexis McGill Johnson became the CEO of Planned Parenthood, she was the co-founder of Perception Institute, an organization that advises C-suite executives and other leaders on issues of bias and discrimination. It’s a background that’s serving her well today. Since the May leak of the Supreme Court draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade, her phone has been ringing nonstop.

On the line: CEOs seeking her counsel as they face not only an end to the constitutional protection of abortion rights but also the growing expectation that they do something about it.

“Businesses have a strategic imperative here,” she says. That imperative? Take action. While companies may have once considered the issue outside their purview, the end of Roe v. Wade will have profound financial consequences, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently told a Senate committee. Already, state-level abortion restrictions in 2021 cost the U.S. economy $105 billion a year in reduced earning levels and worker turnover and absences, according to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. After the fall of Roe, 26 states are considered certain or likely to effectively ban abortion. 

Loss of access to abortion is likely to have both micro-and macroeconomic effects. Some share of women is expected to leave the labor force. Corporations may have difficulty hiring in abortion deserts. According to a survey by reproductive rights and gender equity organization Tara Health Foundation and research firm PerryUndem, 63% of Americans would not apply for a job in a state that recently banned abortion. McGill Johnson says she has already heard from one CEO who has slowed the timeline on a new set of offices in a state likely to severely restrict abortion after the SCOTUS decision. 

Alexis McGill Johnson, President of Planned Parenthood photographed at her home in New York, NY.
Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood photographed at her home in New York, N.Y.
Photograph by Mackenzie Stroh for Fortune

This is an issue that affects employees at all levels, she says. That includes low-wage workers—often Black and brown women forced to drive hours out of state to access care—as well as women on the leadership track. “If you don’t trust me to make a decision about my own body, are you going to put me in front of a client?” McGill Johnson asks. “When you don’t allow me full autonomy over my own body, you’re implicitly telling me you think I’m unequal in other ways.”

A minority of employers have so far acknowledged the necessity of weighing in. A handful of Texas-based companies, such as women-led dating app businesses Match Group and Bumble, were among the first to offer to fund travel for employees who must go out of state to access abortion after the implementation of Texas’s six-week abortion ban in September. Since the Supreme Court leak, more have joined their ranks, including AmazonAppleMicrosoft, and Starbucks

A standard seems to be emerging: paying for travel over 100 miles for employees seeking reproductive care, and ensuring health care plans continue to cover abortion. But those policies aren’t a silver bullet. Some conservative lawmakers have attempted to criminalize any actions that help a pregnant person “violate” a state abortion ban. While it remains to be seen if such efforts will be enforceable, it’s a tricky moment for employers. “If I were the general counsel of these companies, I would tread quite carefully,” says Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. 

These policies also trigger employee privacy concerns. “We’re asking people to bring what should be a personal, private decision between them and their provider into the workplace,” says McGill Johnson. Yelp, which also agreed to cover travel costs for employees, is implementing the benefit through its health care plan so that the company won’t be in the loop on who is using it. That approach has a downside: Any part-time, contract, and hourly workers ineligible for company health care can’t access the benefit—an issue that has surfaced at Amazon.

$105 billion


In addition to tending to their own companies’ policies, McGill Johnson urges CEOs to bring their economic clout to bear on the politicians and organizations shaping abortion law. Companies should be asking themselves where “their financial contributions are going,” she says. “What are they doing to influence their chambers of commerce? This is very much a local issue. Where does the value of a company stand nationally, but also locally in state?” Of course, wading into political waters can also be risky. Just ask Disney, which recently lost its special tax status in Florida, after opposing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

As McGill Johnson fields questions from other CEOs, she’s also strategizing about the future of her own organization. While the CEO doesn’t like to say that abortion is a small part of what Planned Parenthood does—doing so is stigmatizing, she argues—from a purely business perspective, that has long been the case; abortion accounts for 4% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood. The organization and its 49 affiliates serving 2.4 million people are shifting even more resources to services including birth control, STI testing, and breast cancer screenings. It’s also increasing operations in states that are likely to protect abortion rights, and may therefore be poised for an influx of patients from other parts of the country. At the same time, Planned Parenthood with partners is building what McGill Johnson calls the “Kayak of abortion care,” a website that will help patients understand regulations and find out when and where appointments are available. 

Leading through this moment is difficult. Men dominate the C-suite, and many are uncomfortable weighing in—or don’t yet understand why doing so is relevant to their businesses. Women leaders are taking on that burden; McGill Johnson has seen as much at Planned Parenthood, where the emotional demands on her staff are high. 

But there’s still time for companies to do more. Says McGill Johnson: “It’s no longer acceptable to say, ‘I’m going to stay neutral on this issue.’” 

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