Walmart expands abortion coverage for employees after Roe overturns


Walmart is expanding its employee health services to cover more situations where employees can seek abortions, making the nation’s largest private employer the latest company to offer improved access to reproductive health services after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Arkansas-headquartered Walmart, which has 1.6 million employees in the US, said it would cover abortions “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest”. It will also pay for the procedure in the case of miscarriage, lack of fetal viability or ectopic pregnancy, when a fetus is implanted outside the uterus. The company will provide “travel assistance” for employees and dependents if they need to access a health care service covered by Walmart’s insurance plan, but there is no viable provider within 100 miles of their location.

Walmart’s top human resources officer said in an internal memo that the new benefits are effective immediately.

A triggering ban on abortion – except when the mother’s life is in danger – went into effect in Arkansas after the US Supreme Court overturned roe, which had established a fundamental right to the procedure. Around 53 percent of Walmart’s employees in the US are women. It operates more than 2,000 stores in states that have either banned abortion or imposed near-total restrictions on the procedure.

Last year, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed the trigger ban, although earlier this month he said he supports exemptions for rape and incest. There was no immediate reaction to Walmart’s move from senior GOP leaders in Arkansas, although the move was criticized by some anti-abortion activists.

Other companies that have offered support to employees who want to end a pregnancy include Disney, which employs about 80,000 people in Florida, a state with an almost total ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Dick’s Sporting Goods has said it will reimburse employees up to $4,000 in travel expenses to the nearest location where abortion is legal. Lyft and JPMorgan, as well as Walmart competitors Target and CVS, have made similar moves.

Walmart and the Walton family — descendants of the company’s founder and owners of a large stake in the retailer — have a history of supporting conservative causes and politicians. Walmart donated two to three times more to the GOP than the Democratic Party in many election cycles before 2008, according to the Open Secrets campaign finance watchdog.

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In recent years, the retail giant and the Walton family have expanded their contributions to include liberal politicians and moderate Republicans. In 2020, Walmart gave comparable sums to Republican and Democratic politicians; that year the family contributed more to Democratic congressional candidates.

This year’s donations from individual family members to GOP politicians include $17,400 to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who supports abortion rights and recently finished ahead of a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump in a Senate primary. They have also given $250,000 to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group.

Walmart was one of dozens of companies that halted donations to lawmakers who voted against the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory after the January 6, 2021 Capitol uprising.

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