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GSU Expert discusses Roe reversal's impact on companies

Dr. Stephen Wagner offers advice for Americans

Wagner 3

On Friday, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, striking down the constitutional right to abortion.

The decision was met by many Americans taking to the streets, some to protest—some to celebrate. With emotions running high over this very critical issue, the GSU Newsroom took a moment with Dr. Stephen Wagner, Professor of Management in GSU’s College of Business who is Program Coordinator for Human Resource Management concentration, to explore the impact of this and other Supreme Court rulings.

Dr. Wagner discussed the significance of corporations agreeing to pay transportation costs for employees to have access to reproductive care, as well as what the historic decision could signal.

GSU Newsroom: Following the decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, some corporations are offering to provide transportation benefits for employees who will need to travel to receive reproductive care. Why do you think corporations might make this decision?

Dr. Wagner: If you look at polls, nearly two-thirds of Americans supported Roe v. Wade. This change in the law does not seem to reflect what most Americans want.

In terms of companies who are offering travel benefits, the benefits are meant to serve as a signal to potential employees about whether they will fit within that company. These companies are filled with very bright people who also can observe that nearly two-thirds of Americans supported Roe v. Wade, so while it may seem like a political  statement, they are somewhat safe in making this change. Employers have also had travel benefits for other medical procedures because of the distribution of availability of healthcare in our country.

GSU Newsroom: Is it important to a corporations’ bottom line to offer these benefits?

Dr. Wagner: Perhaps. It could be that this is not just a signal to potential employees, but also to potential customers. When you can make a statement that you know that nearly two-thirds of the American populous agrees with, it may be something that could be important for their bottom line.

GSU Newsroom: We’re seeing some states passing harsh laws to enforce the abortion ban. Could this backfire for companies agreeing to pay for employees to travel for abortions?

Dr. Wagner: I think there’s a lot to be played out here, because the laws in many of the states prohibiting abortion are taking a different form. For instance, the Texas Heartbeat Act in particular uses an enforcement mechanism that authorizes members of the public to sue those who perform or facilitate what would be an illegal abortion. In a way this is incentivizing members of the public to be bounty hunters for those seeking abortion, where they can sue for a minimum of $10,000 including and in addition to legal fees.

We also see that there are some conservative members of congress, including the senior senator from Florida, who is proposing the law that would prohibit the business expensing-- the tax deduction of these travel expenditures-- for abortion. So if a law like that passed and if cases were brought under the Texas Heartbeat Act that were costly to these companies, you might see them change their policies down the line.

GSU Newsroom: The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade one day after the Court expanded gun rights. These two rulings seem at odds with one another —the Court intends to protect lives with the abolition of Roe v. Wade, yet chose to expand gun rights following the massacre at Uvalde. What are your thoughts?

Dr. Stephen Wagner: We are going to see a lot more rulings like the rulings on gun control and abortion rights. We are already seeing it in terms of environmental protection and many other things. I think this is an ongoing shift in our laws, and that this change that we’ve seen is not likely to be reversed very quickly. Hopefully, it can motivate people to vote. Regardless of what political side they are on, elections have consequences, and that includes who sits on the Supreme Court.