From Citi, a 'Breakthrough Moment' on Abortion Rights

Company says it will pay travel expenses for employees who need to get to abortion clinics
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2022 1:09 PM CDT
From Citi, a 'Breakthrough Moment' on Abortion Rights
This Dec. 5, 2012, file photo shows a Citi sign in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Increasingly rigid abortion legislation is making inroads across the nation, including in Texas, Mississippi, and Idaho, and now one major corporation is responding. In a Wednesday letter to shareholders, Citigroup announced it would cover some of the costs for employees who need to travel to access abortion services. "In response to changes in reproductive health care laws in certain states in the US, beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources," Citi said in its letter, part of its annual proxy statement, per CNN Business. Citi isn't elaborating, but a source tells the outlet that among the expenses covered would be plane tickets and hotel stays.

CNN notes that Citi "is among the first mega-corporations to add travel expenses to their suite of reproductive health benefits," and Bloomberg lists some of those other companies, including dating app parents Match and Bumble, as well Uber and Lyft, which have said they'll pay legal fees for those sued under Texas law for driving women to abortion clinics. "Good for Citi," says former Citi exec Davia Temin, founder of the Temin and Company consultancy group. "Under [CEO] Jane Fraser, they really are making great strides in equity, pay, and otherwise. Their decision ... puts their female employees first, over the political wrangling of the day." Shelley Alpern of Rhia Ventures, a private equity firm focusing on reproductive health, tells the Dallas Morning News it's a "breakthrough moment" for abortion rights, considering Citi's prestige.

Not everyone is praising Citi's move, though, especially Republicans in states where abortion bans are in play. "The 'travel benefits' offered by Citigroup is nothing more than a PR stunt by a 'woke' company to support a culture of death," says Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush running to become the state's attorney general. Meanwhile, Matt Rinaldi, head of the Republican Party of Texas, implores GOPers to "avoid entrusting their finances with Citibank and other companies that are hostile to them and their values." The Dallas Morning News notes that most of the other banks it contacted—including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs Group, and Morgan Stanley—didn't reply to requests for comment. A Wells Fargo rep said, "We do not have a travel benefit for abortion services at this time. (More Citigroup stories.)

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