Starbucks will begin to cover expenses for employees who travel to seek an abortion or a sex reassignment medical procedure, according to the company’s updated benefits.
Employees of the coffee shop chain can now be reimbursed if services are not available within a 100-mile span, and the provision will also apply to any dependents listed under the employee’s insurance policy.
With the announcement on Monday, Starbucks joins a list of other companies that have pledged to help employees who are seeking an abortion in the wake of a report that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
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“Starbucks has a reputation for championing liberal causes, like vocally supporting same-sex marriage and hiring refugees. That also extends to transgender rights,” a company spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “Starbucks will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare.”
Starbucks began covering gender reassignment surgery in 2012 and expanded to include other procedures — such as breast reduction and augmentation, facial feminization, and hair transplants — in its company health insurance policies in 2018. However, after the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion, Starbucks executives became “deeply concerned” and wanted to ensure “access to quality healthcare,” according to a letter the company sent employees on Monday.
The move coincides with several conservative states seeking to restrict access to abortion and gender-affirming medical care for transgender people. Most recently, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) signed a Texas-style abortion bill that bans the procedure after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is typically around six weeks.
To the south of Oklahoma, the Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that the state can investigate parents for child abuse if they allow “certain ‘sex change’ procedures and treatments” for their children, noting the state agency does not need a directive from the attorney general or the governor to conduct such inquiries.
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If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would automatically become illegal in at least 13 states due to individual trigger laws, prompting abortion rights activists nationwide to denounce the decision.
It’s not entirely clear when the updated benefits will kick in for Starbucks employees, but a company spokesperson told the Washington Examiner the company was still in the process of sorting out the details. However, Starbucks executives released the information early this week to respond to concerns and questions among employees.