Starbucks announced Tuesday that it will reimburse travel expenses for employees seeking an abortion, ahead of the Supreme Court potentially striking down a court case protecting those rights.
The benefit, which also covers dependents, is for when services aren't available within 100 miles. It applies to gender-affirming procedures, as well.
"At Starbucks, we have 240,000 U.S. partners with diverse views," Sara Kelly, the chain's acting EVP, partner resources, said in an open letter. "That’s okay, because it’s what makes us Starbucks. My hope is that we will continue to honor and respect one another. And, together, we’ll become better listeners and learners—finding ways to support one another, as we always have. Because that’s what it means to be a partner."
Earlier in May, an anonymous source leaked a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would cut down Roe v. Wade, a 1973 court case that guaranteed federal abortion rights. If the Supreme Court follows through with the decision, it's expected that roughly half of states will make abortion illegal, or several limit eligibility, hence Starbucks' new healthcare benefits.
The Senate recently attempted to turn Roe v. Wade into law, but the measure failed 51-49. It needed 60 votes to pass. Starbucks is implementing the benefits, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides. Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have made similar moves.
The healthcare benefits are also in response to roughly 150 anti-trans bills being introduced in state legislatures, according to NBC News. MSNBC reported that Starbucks has covered gender reassignment surgery since 2012 and paid for other gender-affirming procedures, such as hair transplants or breast reductions, since 2018.
"Whatever healthcare choice you believe is right for you and your family, you deserve access to those services and the benefits that Starbucks provides," Kelly said.
In addition to increased access to abortion and gender-affirming procedures, the coffee chain also offers paid leave for those welcoming a child by birth, adoption, or foster; health insurance for transgender employees; benefits to cover preventative care and contraception; mental health and counseling sessions through Lyra; and family expansion reimbursement programs to assist with things like adoption, surrogacy, or fertility treatments.