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Yelp joins growing list of companies offering to pay employees' travel expenses to get abortions

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Yelp on Tuesday became the latest major company to offer to pay for employees to travel out of state to obtain abortions as a work benefit.

The company is acting in response to states with Republican-controlled legislatures that have advanced pro-life laws banning abortions after an unborn baby develops a heartbeat or has developed the ability to feel pain, among other restrictions. Yelp will cover the travel costs for any of its 4,000 employees who wish to go to a state without abortion restrictions to kill their unwanted children.

“We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s healthcare rights are restricted,” Miriam Warren, Yelp's chief diversity officer, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

On the same day, the Republican governor of Oklahoma signed legislation that would make it a felony to perform an abortion in the state. The law states that "a person shall not purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.”

Other red states like Texas and Mississippi have enacted laws banning abortions after six weeks, when a baby develops a heartbeat, or at 15 weeks, which is after the baby's sex becomes apparent and it will soon be visible on ultrasound images. Yelp has about 200 employees in Texas, according to MarketWatch.

Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban is the subject of a lawsuit brought to the U.S. Supreme Court that could decide the future of abortion in America, with the 6-3 majority of Republican-appointed justices poised to roll back the constitutional right to an abortion established in the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In the event that Roe is overturned, 26 states have so-called trigger laws that would ban or severely restrict abortion access, prompting Yelp and other companies to create new abortion benefits for employees.

Citigroup in March became one of the largest U.S. companies to pledge to cover employees' travel costs if they leave their states to seek an abortion. The company has more than 220,000 employees, with thousands of employees in Texas.

"In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources," Citi said in a letter to shareholders.

Dating app companies Bumble and Match Group followed, as well as ride-share companies Lyft and Uber.

"The company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business," Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said in a memo to employees. "But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent."

While these companies risk alienating customers who support pro-life laws, they create a market opportunity for competitors that embrace conservative values.

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