Let’s imagine the scene, in the very near future. An employee of the giant Amazon becomes pregnant in the very conservative state of Alabama. She wants an abortion. Problem, the State strictly limits access to abortion. Never mind, if the employee wants to go to another state to have an abortion, her employer will help her financially. In any case, this is what the sprawling company announced with great fanfare on Monday: travel expenses for certain non-critical medical procedures will be reimbursed for employees. Starting with abortions. Yelp and Citigroup had both implemented the same measure earlier in the year.
Concretely, as soon as an employee receives care more than 160 kilometers from his home, the e-commerce giant will fund up to $4,000 in travel and accommodation costs. In addition to abortion, obesity, oncology, drug addiction, obesity treatments and mental health will be covered. In total, the million employees officiating under the Amazon banner in the United States are concerned. Contacted by AFP, the group confirmed, on Monday, the press reports on the change of its health insurance, but not the reasons for this extension of coverage.
Right to abortion under high tension
Fortuitous coincidence? Coincidence of the calendar? Amazon’s decision comes in a context where the right of women to dispose of their bodies seems more than threatened in the United States. The Supreme Court, the summit of the judiciary, is preparing to dismantle the right to abortion, according to the newspaper Politico. Reduce it, or even cancel it purely and simply. So far, Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court authorizes abortion until about twenty-three weeks.
Added to this are the twenty-six American states which have put on track, for months, laws aimed at restricting or prohibiting – in thirteen states precisely – access to abortion. The law in Mississippi is currently being reviewed by the nine Supreme Court justices, who have been majority conservatives (six to three) since Donald Trump’s tenure. Their final judgment is not expected before June. Oklahoma, Florida, or Arkansas are also awaiting the validation of the Supreme Court.
“A highly political question”
For the economist, professor at the Sorbonne, Pierre-Charles Pradier, the question of abortion is “highly symbolic politically”. He cites the example of Texas, the third state with the most Amazon employees, which implemented one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States on September 1, 2021. Any abortion is now prohibited from the moment a beating of the fetus is perceptible on ultrasound, approximately four weeks after fertilization.
The president of the American Principles project – a conservative think tank –, Terry Schilling, interviewed by the Daily Wire, is hardly more surprised by this device. He recalls that Amazon has “among others” supported “the ban on selling conservative books on its platform” and the “partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to block donations to right-wing groups”. Amazon employees also tend to side with Democrats, “85% of their donations going to the Democrats in 2020”, he specifies.
But the economist Pierre-Charles Pradier does not stop at the political argument. He recalls that “the American labor market is currently very dynamic with more than 6 million jobs created”. Over the past twelve months, 77 million hires have been made for 70 million layoffs. That’s why, in this competitive climate, employers are looking to attract new faces with more generous wages and benefits. And to conclude: “In short, to recruit, Amazon offers health insurance to its employees.”