Doug Mastriano’s Extreme Abortion Ban Would Cost Pennsylvania Jobs, Force Companies to Leave Pennsylvania
It’s been less than a week since the Dobbs decision, and even more Pennsylvania businesses are going public to criticize efforts like Doug Mastriano’s plan to completely ban abortion with no exceptions, with one CEO of a local business saying: “If PA makes abortion illegal, we won’t be able to attract talent and we’ll have to grow our offices elsewhere.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf warned of the implications of banning abortion on the PA economy, saying, “Companies have employees that don’t want to be in states that restrict a women’s reproductive health care choices. So I think what Dicks and Duolingo said is a stark reminder that we need to in my view uphold the right of women to make their own health care decisions.”
Mastriano has called banning abortion his “number one issue,” and he wants to outlaw abortion with no exceptions and criminalize doctors who perform them. He even claimed Roe is “so much” worse than the Holocaust and said, “my body, my choice is ridiculous nonsense.”
“Doug Mastriano’s extreme abortion ban would drive businesses away, cost jobs, and hurt Pennsylvania’s economy,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Sam Newton. “At a time when Pennsylvanians care about growing the economy and reducing costs, Mastriano is doubling down on his dangerous and extremist agenda that will hurt everyone in Pennsylvania.”
Wolf said in an interview on KDKA radio on Tuesday that he has seven months left in office and “as long as I’m there, I’ll continue to stand firm on that.”
During the interview, he also touched on decisions announced by two Pittsburgh-based companies, Duolingo, which produces language-learning apps, and Dick’s Sporting Goods regarding changes in the abortion law.
Duolingo’s CEO Luis von Ahn announced he will move the company, that according to its website employs 500-plus people, to another state if Pennsylvania bans abortions.
Dick’s President and CEO Lauren Hobart, shortly after Friday’s Supreme Court decision was handed down sending oversight of abortion laws back to the states, that the company would provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to employees who need to travel to a different state for abortion access.
Responding to a question about whether Pennsylvania should tout itself as a state that still allows abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy, Wolf said he didn’t think that was necessary.
But he said the announcements of companies such as Duolingo and Dick’s should remind lawmakers that the Republican-backed push to restrict abortion rights comes with consequences.
“Companies have employees that don’t want to be in states that restrict a women’s reproductive health care choices,” Wolf said. “So I think what Dicks and Duolingo said is a stark reminder that we need to in my view uphold the right of women to make their own health care decisions.”
Western Pennsylvania-based companies Duolingo and Giant Eagle have joined a growing list of corporations nationwide promising to reimburse employees who must travel to receive abortions.
“It is extremely important to us that all our employees have access to the full spectrum of reproductive care, including abortion services,” Duolingo, a language-learning tech company headquartered in East Liberty, said in a statement. “We are updating our benefits to ensure every Duolingo employee in the United States can access reproductive healthcare, including reimbursement for any travel expenses necessary for accessing abortion services.”
Giant Eagle, the O’Hara-based grocer, said in an emailed statement that it will offer travel reimbursements for “family planning services” and communicate more information to staff soon.
“We are committed to providing our team members access to comprehensive healthcare, including access to reproductive care. We join other businesses by committing to reimburse expenses for covered family members to travel between states to access family planning services,” the company wrote. “We will share specific details related to this offering with our Team Members in the coming days.”
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, Duolingo CEO and co-founder Luis von Ahn suggested in a Tweet Friday that his company would expand its enterprise “elsewhere” if Pennsylvania passes new legislation outlawing abortion. Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania, but whether it remains so may rest on the outcome of the state’s gubernatorial race in November. The Republican nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, wants abortion banned after six weeks of pregnancy and does not support exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest or when a pregnant person’s life is at risk.
“To all Pennsylvania politicians: I love that @duolingo is headquartered in Pittsburgh and that y’all use it as an example that successful tech companies can start here,” Mr. von Ahn wrote on Twitter. “If PA makes abortion illegal, we won’t be able to attract talent and we’ll have to grow our offices elsewhere.”
Duolingo and Giant Eagle’s pledges come after Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Friday that it will provide up to $4,000 in reimbursements to employees traveling for reproductive care. The Findlay-based retailer specified that those funds will also be available to any spouse or dependent enrolled in its medical plan as well as one accompanying support person.
Dick’s Sporting Goods and Duolingo announced they will offer reimbursements to employees who must travel for abortion services. The Supreme Court decision put the question of abortion into the hands of the states, which have a broad range of policies on the procedure. It is still legal in Pennsylvania during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy — but together, Dick’s and Duolingo employ more than 50,000 people across the country.
She noted that Google notified its workers Friday that they could apply to transfer out of states that curtail access to abortion. The tech giant said employees would not need to provide any justification for the requests.
“By doing that, [employers are] taking people out of the state. So the tax revenue goes down,” Rosenberg said. “And ultimately, there is an economic impact on red states that are taking highly restrictive views on reproductive health. [And] anyone who doesn’t have the ability to relocate is ultimately going to suffer economic harm as companies pull out of states that are being highly restrictive.”
Duolingo’s von Ahn appeared to follow that logic with his statement Friday that Pennsylvania’s abortion laws would influence where his company chooses to expand.
Based in East Liberty, the language-learning tech company employs more than 500 people globally. Most of them reside in the Pittsburgh area, and just this year, the firm opened a new office about a block from its original Penn Avenue location. The space nearly doubled Duolingo’s footprint within the city.
In the wake of the decision, here’s a look at how companies from around Greater Philadelphia reacted:
- Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is among a number of large entertainment companies including Disney, Netflix, Paramount and Warner Bros, that will cover travel costs for all employees seeking abortions, as reported by Variety. That falls in line with the Philadelphia media conglomerate’s policy of covering expenses for all medical procedures not available near the employee. Comcast has over 16,400 employees in the Philadelphia area and some 190,000 globally.
- Heyward Donigan, the CEO of Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD), which recently moved its headquarters to Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, was asked about the ruling during multiple pre-scheduled media appearances on Friday. Though she didn’t address specifics, Donigan told Yahoo Finance that the drugstore chain has “already been working with our health plan administrator on contingencies” for health care coverage for its more than 50,000 employees. She added that “our number one concern is and always will be their best interests and their wellness.”
- Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), which employs over 5,300 people in the Philadelphia area, said on Monday that they would reimburse employees for travel and lodging costs if they need to travel more than 50 miles for healthcare services, including abortions.