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Levi Strauss & Co. endorses abortion as 'critical' to women's progress

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Levi Strauss & Co. on Wednesday joined the long line of corporations releasing statements affirming abortion rights and pledging to pay the travel expenses of employees seeking an abortion.

In a statement titled, "Protecting Reproductive Rights – A Business Imperative," the apparel company said that business leaders "are responsible for protecting the health and well-being of our employees, and that includes protecting reproductive rights and abortion access."

Levi Strauss vociferously endorsed abortion as a "critical factor to the workplace gains and contributions women have made over the past 50 years." The company argued that pro-life laws "restricting or criminalizing access" to killing unborn children in the womb "will jeopardize that progress."

The statement comes as the U.S. Supreme Court appears prepared to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a leaked draft majority opinion reported by Politico Monday.

If Roe is overturned, abortion restrictions in 26 states would immediately go into effect, in some cases making abortion illegal at any point in a woman's pregnancy.

"We know this is a fraught conversation; it’s not something we enter into lightly. But women make up 58 percent of our global workforce, and in recent years, numerous employees have expressed to leadership their growing alarm over the rollback of all forms of reproductive care," Levi Strauss said.

In response, the company will expand its health care-related travel expenses plan to cover part-time hourly workers who choose to travel to another state to seek an abortion.

"Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights," the company said.

Levi Strauss & Co. joins Amazon, Yelp, Citigroup, and other companies that have announced abortion benefits plans in recent weeks in anticipation that some states will enact new restrictions on abortion.

Amazon, the second-largest U.S. private employer, on Monday told employees it will pay up to $4,000 in annual travel expenses for any pregnant employee who travels more than 100 miles to obtain an abortion.

In response to these actions and others, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would prevent companies from deducting expenses related to abortion benefits or covering so-called "gender-affirming care" for transgender children when they file federal taxes.

“Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life. Instead, too often our corporations find loopholes to subsidize the murder of unborn babies or horrific 'medical' treatments on kids," Rubio said. "My bill would make sure this does not happen."

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