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Microsoft pledges abortion and gender transition benefits for employees and their dependents

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Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Add Microsoft to the ever-growing list of companies that are pledging to provide female employees with abortion benefits, as well as coverage for so-called "gender-affirming care" for transgender children of employees.

The software company told the Washington Post Wednesday that it "will continue to do everything we can under the law to protect our employees’ rights and support employees and their enrolled dependents in accessing critical health care — which already includes services like abortion and gender-affirming care — regardless of where they live across the U.S.”

In a statement, the company said that employee benefits are being extended "to include travel expense assistance for these and other medical services where access to care is limited in availability in an employee’s home geographic region.”

Microsoft made this announcement in response to a request from the Washington Post for a story on how video game companies have stayed "mostly silent" after a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion indicated that the court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in a decision that would uphold Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban.

In the wake of Politico's report on the Supreme Court leak, many large companies have affirmed their commitment to abortion rights by pledging to provide benefits to employees living in states where abortion restrictions would go into effect should Roe be overruled. For example, Amazon, the second-largest private employer in the U.S., will pay up to $4,000 in annual travel expenses for any female employee who travels more than 100 miles to obtain an abortion.

Other companies offering similar benefits include Citigroup Inc., Disney, Yelp Inc., Uber, Lyft, and more.

Disney is notable for also pledging to support employees seeking puberty blockers or cross-sex hormone supplements for their transgender dependents while publicly opposing a Florida law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Some Republican-controlled states have moved to designate sex-change surgeries or transgender hormone regimens for minors as "child abuse." A recently enacted Alabama law, for instance, bans hormone treatments, transition surgery, or puberty blockers for anyone under 19 years old.

But the Washington Post's story focuses on how video game companies, often bastions of progressive politics, "have kept both their mouths and wallets closed" on these issues as other companies have acted, calling this silence "conspicuous" since the industry has previously championed progressive causes like Black Lives Matter and denounced anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of more than 20 video game companies reached by the Post for comment, only Microsoft, which manufactures the Xbox gaming system, and Activision Blizzard responded with statements.

The corporate push to oppose Republican-backed state laws restricting abortion access or gender transition for minors has begun to receive pushback from Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently introduced a bill that would prevent companies from deducting medical expenses related to these benefits from their taxes.

"Businesses should not receive tax breaks for radical leftist activism, especially when that activism jeopardizes our children. Our tax code should encourage family formation and promote a culture of life. Instead, it too often encourages subsidies for the murder of unborn babies and the performance of horrific 'medical' treatments on kids," Rubio said after introducing the bill.

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