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Amazon, Disney, AT&T Gave To Abortion Enemies As They Swore To Help Workers

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Three corporate giants that promised to pay for employees to travel for reproductive medical care also contributed to anti-abortion executives’ campaigns.

Amazon, AT&T and Walt Disney have said they will help cover travel costs for employees who need care that is not available where they live. At the same time, state campaign finance data shows that the companies or affiliates have financially supported leaders trying to reduce access to abortions.

Governors Bill Lee of Tennessee, Greg Abbott of Texas, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Ron DeSantis of Florida — Republicans seeking to curtail abortion rights — each received contributions from at least one of the corporations or associated political action committees before the Court’s ruling. Apart from Youngkin, who took office in January, each of them faces a reelection battle this year.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which makes the availability of reproductive health care, including abortion, miscarriage management, and treatment for ectopic pregnancies, subject to several state laws. More than half of US states have banned or are expected to ban or severely restrict abortion.

It is common for companies, their employees or other entities with ties to companies to give money to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Whether giving behavior may change because of new abortion laws, which have the potential to increase costs and create medical privacy and other challenges in the workplace, is unclear.

“In most cases, the corporations’ support of the politicians isn’t because of the abortion issue,” said Jane Sumner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, who studies the relationship between public opinion and the role. . of companies in politics. Companies give money to maintain positive relationships with politicians “in case they ever need it,” she said.

Spokespersons for Amazon, AT&T and Disney did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their contributions to candidates.

Shifting states

Amazon told staff on May 2 it would pay as much as $4,000 to cover travel expenses to get an abortion or other care. Later that day, a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s ruling was published. But Amazon also supported the campaigns of top officials in states where abortion could become more difficult or impossible to obtain.

So is Virginia, where a few years ago, after a rowdy nationwide search for a location, Amazon decided to build its so-called HQ2 in the Washington, DC suburb of Arlington. The company has said it expects more than 25,000 jobs in the region.

Abortion is currently legal in Virginia during the second trimester of pregnancy in all situations, and allowed in the third trimester if multiple doctors confirm that continuing a pregnancy would result in the death of the mother or her “significant and irreparable” would harm. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Youngkin said he planned to seek an abortion ban in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Through subsidiary Amazon Services LLC, the tech giant gave $125,000 to Youngkin’s campaign in 2021, according to state records and company disclosures. It also gave $20,000 to Youngkin’s Democratic rival, Terry McAuliffe.

Other states where Amazon has a large presence are also expected to ban abortions. In Tennessee, Lee signed a six-week abortion ban in July 2020 with limited exceptions. The measure was blocked by a federal court but went into effect on Tuesday after Roe’s undoing. A trigger law banning nearly all abortions will come into effect later this year.

Amazon gave $25,400 to Lee’s campaign and $23,500 to Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally’s state Senate campaign from 2019 to 2021, according to state records and company disclosures. The company has created more than 31,000 jobs in Tennessee by the end of 2021, according to its website.

Contribution calculation

Like Amazon, AT&T said it would pay employees to travel for care they can’t get in the state where they live, although abortion was not specifically mentioned. The Dallas-based company backed Republicans who supported abortion bans, including in Florida and Texas, according to state records and reports from Insider and Popular Information.

Between 2020 and 2022, an AT&T Texas PAC sent $165,000 to a political action committee aligned with Gov. Abbott and $70,000 to a commission aligned with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. State campaign financials show no contributions from AT&T or affiliated groups to Abbott’s Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Abbott signed an abortion ban after six weeks last year. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe last week, that law was briefly replaced by a 19th-century law that completely bans abortions. A judge blocked that pre-Roe law Tuesday, but only for a few clinics. Currently, those clinics in Texas can perform abortions up to six weeks of pregnancy.

In Florida, AT&T contributed $80,000 in 2020 and 2021 to Friends of Ron DeSantis, a political action committee affiliated with the Republican governor and potential presidential candidate for 2024, according to state records.

In April, DeSantis signed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Following the Supreme Court decision, he tweeted that “the prayers of millions have been answered” and that the state “will continue to defend its recently implemented pro-life reforms”. A state court on Thursday blocked the abortion law.

Reassess approach

Based in California, Disney is one of Florida’s largest landowners, and its theme parks anchor the Sunshine State’s economically critical tourism industry. Last week, the company said it would cover the costs for employees who have to travel to have an abortion.

There is increasing bitterness between Disney and DeSantis. The governor signed legislation in March banning “classroom teaching by school staff or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade, or “in a way that is not age appropriate.” Opponents said the law is discriminatory and Disney employees are encouraging the company to oppose it.

Yet a Disney subsidiary has also been a major donor to DeSantis’ campaign. Disney Worldwide Services, which performs electrical repairs for operations, contributed at least $100,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis from 2019 to 2021, state records show.

At the company’s annual shareholders meeting in March, CEO Bob Chapek said Disney was “re-evaluating our approach to advocacy, including political donations in Florida and beyond.”

A few days later, the company told employees it was ceasing political contributions to the state. In response, DeSantis signed a law instituting a lawsuit to revoke the special tax status Disney enjoys at its Disney World theme park near Orlando.

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