Walmart expands abortion coverage for staff after Roe’s cancellation

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Walmart is expanding its employee health care plans to cover more situations in which its staff might seek an abortion, making the nation’s largest private employer the latest company to offer improved access to reproductive health services after Roe vs. Wade was overthrown.

Walmart, which is headquartered in Arkansas and has 1.6 million employees in the United States, said it would cover abortions “when there is a risk to the health of the mother, rape or incest”. It will also pay for the operation in the event of a miscarriage, lack of fetal viability or ectopic pregnancy, when a fetus implants outside the uterus. The company will provide ‘travel assistance’ to employees and dependents if they need to access a health service covered by Walmart’s insurance plan, but there is no viable provider within 100 miles of their location.

Walmart’s human resources manager said in an internal memo that the new benefits are effective immediately.

A ban on inducing abortions — except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk — took effect in Arkansas after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it Deer, which had established a fundamental procedural right. About 53% of Walmart employees in the United States are women. It operates more than 2,000 stores in states that have either banned abortion or imposed near-total restrictions on the procedure.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (right) signed the trigger ban last year, although he said earlier this month he supported exceptions for rape and incest. There was no immediate reaction to Walmart’s decision from senior GOP leaders in Arkansas, although the move was criticized by some anti-abortion activists.

Other companies that have offered support to employees seeking to terminate a pregnancy include Disney, which employs some 80,000 people in Florida, a state that almost completely bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Dick’s Sporting Goods said it will reimburse employees for up to $4,000 in travel expenses to the nearest location where abortion is legal. Lyft and JPMorgan, along with Walmart competitors Target and CVS, have taken similar action.

Walmart and the Walton family — descendants of the company’s founder and owners of a large stake in the retailer — have a history of supporting conservative causes and politicians. Walmart donated two to three times more to the GOP than to the Democratic Party in many election cycles before 2008, according to campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets.

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In recent years, the retail giant and the Walton family have expanded their contributions to include liberal politicians and moderate Republicans. In 2020, walmart gave comparable sums to Republican and Democratic politicians; that year, the family contributed more to Democratic candidates for Congress.

Donations this year individual family members to GOP politicians include $17,400 to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who supports abortion rights and recently finished ahead of a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump in a Senate primary. They also donated $250,000 to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group.

Walmart was one of dozens of companies that halted donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 victory after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

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