Amazon announces benefit to pay for US employees who travel for abortions, other treatments

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Online retail giant took a firm stance Monday pushing against a prevailing Republican-led push to restrict access to abortion, telling its staff that it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses for non-life threatening medical treatments that include abortion.

The move comes as a leaked Supreme Court opinion suggests the conservative-leaning court may op to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark law that makes abortion legal.

In a message sent to employees, obtained by Reuters, Amazon told its employees that the new work benefit would apply to an employee if an operation could not be done within 100 miles of their home and virtual care is not accessible. That will be put in place for all corporate and warehouse employees or covered dependents enrolled in the company's Premera or Aetna health plans, according to the memo.

Amazon's benefit would kick into place in January of 2023. It applies to all non-life threatening treatments—not just abortion—including cardiology, cellular gene therapies and substance-abuse disorder services.

Yet the move comes on the heels of other major companies—Citigroup and Yelp most recently—to create work benefits that combat adjusting legal changes in employees' health benefits.

Other companies have taken firm stances, too. Lyft and Uber said publicly they would cover for drivers sued under Texas' new law limiting access to abortions, which went into effect in September 2021.

Will Roe v Wade be overturned?

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June on a case that gives a Republican majority a chance to adjust abortion rights and even overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide. Several U.S. states currently have laws poised to limit abortion access should the Roe v. Wade ruling be overturned.

Amazon recently stopped offering paid time off for U.S. diagnosed with COVID-19, opting to give them five days of excused unpaid leave instead. The Amazon Labor Union, a group of current and former workers, has regularly pushed for better pay and job security.

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