Google among Big Tech companies reacting to Supreme Court abortion ruling

The news: Google becomes a focal point in the fight over abortion access as it issues a new policy post-Roe v. Wade.

  • In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, which ends federal Constitutional abortion protection, Google will allow employees to relocate away from states where the procedure might be banned, per Engadget.
  • The policy allows employees to “apply for relocation without justification” though managers handling the applications would be “aware of the situation.”
  • It builds on the company’s employee benefits plan provision of covering out-of-state medical procedures.
  • Yet the company is also facing external political pressure. Lawmakers want Google to fix its search engine results that reportedly direct users to fake abortion clinics.
  • Additionally, a group of senators is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Google and Apple for their role in digital advertising tracking that could put those who have sought abortions at risk of exposure.

Tech responds: Other tech giants are reacting to the court’s rights reversal.

  • After the impending decision was leaked in May, Tesla, Amazon, and Apple announced travel reimbursements for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, per Yahoo.
  • On Friday, Microsoft, Netflix, and Lyft issued similar travel policies, with the latter announcing the creation of a Women’s Transportation Access program.
  • Meta has doubled down on its policy that employees not discuss abortion or other sensitive topics in the workplace.

How we got here: In the absence of federal protections, as many as 28 states could completely ban or severely restrict abortion access.

  • Despite the court’s ruling, polling indicates that 60% of those in the US want abortion to remain legal, per The Washington Post, with Gen Z the most pro-choice generation.
  • For companies like Google, the ability to attract and retain talent hinges on establishing workplace policies that are in line with cultural demands.
  • Social media platforms like Meta’s Facebook, which have sought to appear politically neutral, risk alienating workers by censoring discussions about abortion.

A complicated picture: Setting travel policies is just the beginning of complex decisions tech companies will have to make in light of Roe’s end.

  • Although Google isn’t requiring justification for those who request to travel out of state, the company’s location data is an example of digital information that could be used by states seeking to prosecute those who aid and abet abortion.
  • This means tech companies could come under legal fire for pro-abortion policies.
  • It also means tech companies may reconsider their US expansion plans, which could hinder those that seek to amass real estate for new offices and data centers in lower-cost areas.