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Ohio business reaction to abortion ban underscores link between economy and health care

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Memos from different companies have reportedly started to surface that offered to pay travel expenses for employees who live in states that ban abortion. That includes Kroger, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase — three of Ohio’s top ten employers.

A handful of Ohio’s top employers are offering to pay their workers’ travel costs if they need to leave the state for abortion services, now that Ohio’s new abortion ban — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — is in effect.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, memos from different companies started to surface that offered to pay travel expenses for employees who live in states that ban abortion.

That included reported memos from Kroger, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase — three of Ohio’s top ten employers.

Abortion rights and health care advocates commended businesses that are offering to fill the gaps in available services.

“They're making sure that their employees that have reproductive health needs — that can't be met in that state — that they are able to access them, not in the best of ways, but in at least some way,” said Steve Wagner, Universal Health Care Action Network Ohio executive director.

Wagner noted that health care and employment have been “inextricably linked” in the U.S. Wagner said that kind of system can have its pros and cons but he said it’s helpful given the current situation with companies located in different states with varying policies on abortion.

There is a Republican supermajority in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate. Given that power balance, passing bills that expand abortion restrictions and bills that cultivate a pro-business climate have been among the top priorities of the legislature.

Wagner said the reaction from businesses to help connect employees with abortion services out-of-state shows how banning abortion can have a negative impact on the state’s economic growth.

“If you've got a state legislature that is making it challenging for employees to want to stay in Ohio and work, then that makes it challenging for businesses to get the people they need,” Wagner said. “If the state of Ohio continues to hurt the employees by making it so that there can't be good health care that takes care of women, then why would businesses want to be here?”

Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life president, called the move by some Ohio businesses to offer to pay travel costs for abortion services “unfortunate” and said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health will have “zero impact” on the economy.

“Recent polling demonstrates that shareholders of public companies want corporations they invest in to stay out of the cultural policy arena and focus on the core business mission,” said Gonidakis.

Gonidakis also noted Ohio’s current unemployment rate and that plans are still under way for Intel’s major computer chipmaking facility in central Ohio.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.