Citigroup to cover travel costs for employees who want abortion

Hailey Chin

In response to The Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, New York City-based financial institution Citigroup Inc. is providing employees with travel benefits to visit abortion clinics outside of the state.

“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 on March 15.

Texas passed the restrictive Texas Heartbeat Act on Sept. 1. The legislation doesn’t even allow for exceptions for incest or sexual assault cases.

The law states that anyone in the United States can bring legal action against people, doctors and clinic workers who help pregnant women get abortions. This happened to Dr. Alan Braid, who performed an abortion after the law was passed.

“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” Braid wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

Two lawsuits were filed against Braid by disbarred attorneys. One of those lawyers is Oscar Stilley, who committed tax fraud in 2010. Stilley has said that he is not personally against abortion and is after the $10,000 that is promised to those who report abortions, according to The New York Times.

For some who report abortions, it has become a matter of making a profit instead of valuing a women’s right to health care and autonomy over their own bodies.

“I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces. I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972,” Braid said.

Doing business in Texas since 1870, Citi currently employs 10,000 people in the state, according to the bank’s website.

Citigroup is not the only company who has responding to Texas’ law. Bumble, a dating app, created a relief fund for people seeking abortions.

Online dating platforms Match Group Inc., OkCupid and Tinder have created funds to support affected employees. Shar Dubey, the CEO of Match and Tinder, personally created the funds and took a stance against the Texas law. She expressed to The New York Times that she did not feel right about staying silent on an issue she “really clearly thought was just wrong.”

“Taking us backward while much of the world is moving forward? That didn’t sit well with me,” Dubey said.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber Technologies Inc., wrote in a tweet that the company would cover the legal costs for drivers who bring women to abortion clinics.

Similarly, on Sept. 3, Lyft published a blog post stating it defended its drivers and put forth the following scenario.

“Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking the law. Both are completely unacceptable,” Lyft wrote.

As of March 17, Citi is the only major bank to take this kind of action against the law.