This is Not the Time to be Silent About the Reversal of Roe v. Wade

In 2014, I had an abortion. It was an abortion that was medically necessary but an abortion nonetheless. I first wrote about my abortion just a few weeks after it happened. I was pregnant and my baby was no longer viable. I went to my regular doctor appointment where we unsuccessfully tried to hear for my baby’s heartbeat. I drove to another office for an ultrasound where it was confirmed my baby wasn’t developing the way they were supposed to. I was scheduled to have a procedure that would terminate my pregnancy the next day. 

The overturning of Roe v. Wade didn’t really hit me until this weekend after my mom called me. She encouraged me to share my own story. Initially, I told her that there were many other women who had better stories than me, but I was wrong. My story is common and it needs to be shared, so here I am sharing about a loss that hit me so very hard that I didn’t leave my bed for nearly eight weeks. But I had the choice to do what was right for me…for my baby…for my body. Now, women in American do not unless they are living in a place of privilege.

The Right for Our Employees, Our Friends, Our Family… to Choose 

I cannot imagine having to carry my baby to term because having this medical procedure was against the law. I can’t imagine being potentially charged for manslaughter because I made this choice. And yet this is the position we are now putting hundreds of thousands of women each year in America through because the constitution didn’t specifically mention women and their rights. 

This is not about just abortion for me but the freedom to choose my own destiny. The ability to be in control of my own body, my future, my choice…

There are lots of stories in the news right now. Google sent a company wide email Friday about the historic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, explaining employees in affected states can apply for relocation without explaining why. Amazon has publicly said it’d cover costs for employees seeking abortions in states where the procedure were made illegal. Patagonia outlined its position that supporting employees goes beyond providing basic healthcare on LinkedIn. Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart on Friday announced the retailer would provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement for any of its employees, spouses or dependents enrolled in its medical plan, along with one support person, in order to obtain an abortion where it is legally available (side note: The retailer’s stock jumped nearly 10% Friday afternoon upon the announcement.)

I’m grateful they are doing this, but this is not enough.

Even if companies do not issue public statements in response to Roe’s reversal, they will almost certainly have to address the legislative move in internal communications, given the sweeping and immediate impact on women in the workplace and a more geographically dispersed workforce. Abortion rights could instantly disappear in 26 states, affecting about half the women of reproductive age in the U.S.

I am encouraging all business leaders to stand up and protect their daughters, mothers, sisters and their employees. We need you to know that our female friends and colleagues are triggered, on edge and do not feel safe. 

Please take a moment to talk to your employees and family members because they are not okay. A small gesture to cover travel for a procedure or send an email to your team is not enough. We need to do more. And by more I mean if you, as a business leaders have donated to a political campaign or other entity that is not in support of the right to choose, I need you to reconsider. Personally, I’m considering researching all political donations to see which of these same business leaders at companies who are supporting travel for abortion for employees but who also have and are donating to campaigns that are working to keep Roe v. Wade overturned. This is not acceptable. You can’t have it both ways. 

For everyone, I would encourage you to register to vote, exercise your right to vote, support and donate to organizations that support women and minorities, and talk to your local government officials and let them know what is happening is not right.

It’s okay if you don’t agree with me, but what I believe in is the right to choose and now you know why. Please understand your employees are waiting, watching, and looking for HR and business leaders to stand up and speak out. Not doing so shows me and others where you stand. The silence is deafening. Your employees also have the right to leave your organization because a lack of action shows them that you are not aligned with our values and that you won’t stand up for your employees.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.


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