More than 180 technology, media and fashion executives have signed an open letter on abortion rights arguing that conservative efforts to restrict comprehensive reproductive care would be bad for business.
Leading businesses including Bloomberg, Ben & Jerry’s and The Body Shop have put their name to the letter, which calls on the private sector to ‘stand up for reproductive healthcare’.
The letter, which was printed in a full-page ad in Monday’s New York Times, argues that reducing access to abortion ‘threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers’.
Nine states, including Alabama, Georgia and Missouri have passed abortion laws this year that all but ban the procedure.
Responding to the recent drive against abortion, the CEOs say the crackdown is simply ‘bad for business’.
Several prominent tech executives were among those who signed the letter, including Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp and Stewart Butterfield of Slack.
Bloomberg chairman Peter Grauer and Atlantic Records chairman Julie Greenwald were also among those endorsing the ‘Don’t Ban Equality’ letter.
‘When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities and our economy are better for it,’ the statement read.
‘Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers.
‘Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business. It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.
‘The future of gender equality hangs in the balance, putting our families, communities, businesses and the economy at risk.’
Organizers say the companies have a combined workforce of more than 100,000 people.
The letter suggests support from parts of the business community for abortion rights, although major companies such as Apple, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Cisco, AT&T, Facebook and Google remained silent on the matter.
The advertisement follows a string of company executives in recent weeks who threatened to pull investments in states enacting new laws that limit abortion rights.
Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Iger said last month it would be ‘very difficult’ to keep filming in Georgia if a law banning abortion went into effect.
A number of Hollywood players followed suit with Netflix saying it would ‘rethink’ its investment in Georgia.
WarnerMedia – which includes HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. – and NBCUniversal vowed to monitor the situation.
Georgia’s film and TV industry generated $9.5 billion in 2018 and has been used as the location for Marvel mega-hits such as Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame, thanks to state offered tax credits attracting major Hollywood studios.
Some 455 productions were shot in Georgia last year.
Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood, welcomed the support drummed up by the business leaders following the advertisement on Monday.
‘We are grateful and inspired to have so many business leaders standing with us proudly and publicly to oppose these dangerous, unprecedented attacks – raising the alarm about the chilling effect on their employees and the communities where they do business,’ Wen said.
‘People across the country are outraged – politicians have no place in our personal health decisions. And now more than ever, we must stand together to declare that reproductive health care, including abortion care, is necessary for all people to live healthy, successful lives.’
ACLU boss Anthony Romero also welcomed the letter, saying his organization was ‘proud to stand’ with the business leaders.
‘Their statement today shows that the business community won’t sit on the sidelines while politicians continue to try to take away our reproductive rights,’ he said.
The move comes as several states adopt legislation that would test the 1973 ‘Roe v Wade’ Supreme Court ruling asserting a woman’s constitution right to privacy in health matters that includes abortion.
Alabama, Missouri and other states recently adopted bans on abortion, in the hope that conservative justices appointed by President Trump would reverse the longstanding legal precedent.
An Alabama law set to take effect in November would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk and would not include rape and incest.
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have both begun lawsuits against the Alabama decision.
The governor of Georgia has also signed into law a ban on abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected.
In Missouri, lawmakers made the procedure illegal from eight weeks of pregnancy and did not make exceptions for rape or incest. A Missouri judge issued another order on Monday to keep the state’s only abortion clinic operating while a fight over the facility’s licence plays out in court.
Pro-choice activists fear that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade and allow total bans on abortion.