Walmart Broadens Abortion Coverage for Employees

Retailer also expands benefits for fertility services, in vitro fertilization, adoptions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 19, 2022 4:15 PM CDT
Walmart Broadens Abortion Coverage for Employees
A woman wheels a cart with her purchases out of a Walmart in Derry, N.H., in 2020.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Walmart, the nation's largest employer, is expanding its abortion coverage for employees after staying largely mum on the issue following the Supreme Court ruling that scrapped a nationwide right to abortion. In a memo sent to employees on Friday, the AP reports, the company said its health care plans will now cover abortion for employees "when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability." Previously, the company's plan covered abortion only "when the health of the mother would be in danger if the fetus were carried to term, the fetus could not survive the birthing process, or death would be imminent after birth," according to a copy of the policy viewed by the AP but not confirmed by Walmart.

Donna Morris, the retailer's chief people officer, said in the memo to staff that the new policy will also offer "travel support" for workers seeking abortions covered under its health care plans—as well as their dependents—so they can access services that are not available within 100 miles of their locations. Walmart employs nearly 1.6 million people in the US. In Arkansas, where the company is based, abortion is banned under all circumstances unless the procedure is needed to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. That means under the revised policy, Walmart employees can travel out of the state—or any other state that prohibits abortion for rape and incest—to obtain the procedure through the retailer's health plans.

Several companies —including Meta, American Express and Bank of America — have said they will cover travel costs for their employees in the aftermath of the high court ruling that tossed out Roe v. Wade, including elective abortions. But a Walmart spokesperson did not immediately reply for a request for comment on whether any of the company's revised policy will cover elective abortions as well. In the memo sent Friday, the company said it will also launch a center that provides fertility services to employees, such as in vitro fertilization. Additionally, it vowed to add surrogacy support and increase its financial aid for adoptions from $5,000 to $20,000. In June, Walmart said it would expand its offering of doulas—people who assist women during pregnancies—to address racial disparities in maternal care.

(More health care abortion stories.)

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