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Abortion Bans Threaten ‘Health, Independence and Economic Stability’ of Employees, Say CEOs

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Ongoing abortion restrictions in states across the U.S. including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Missouri are resulting in businesses standing up for reproductive health care.

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a “fetal heartbeat” bill in May that would effectively sentence women to life imprisonment and the death penalty if they chose to have an illegal abortion after six weeks. The law is set to go into effect next year.

Many studios that have commented on the issue have said they’re waiting to see if the law actually takes effect or if it will be blocked by courts.

Related Story: Director Spike Lee Calling for Georgia Film Industry Boycott

The Walt Disney Company (No. 20 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) and WarnerMedia (a unit of AT&T No. 1) said last month that if Georgia’s “heartbeat” law takes effect, they may stop producing movies and TV shows in the state. Disney blockbuster films such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame” were filmed in Georgia.

“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said.

Meanwhile, Amazon (a DiversityInc Noteworthy Company), has already withdrawn from planned shoots in Georgia for the series, “The Power.”

In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill last month banning all abortions from the time a person is “known to be pregnant.” No exceptions are made for incest or rape.

Related Story: Alabama Abortion Ban Likely to Have Disproportionate Effect on Black Women

In response to the abortion bans, more than 180 CEOs have signed an open letter, which opposes any restrictions on reproductive health care. The letter can be seen in a full-page New York Times ad published on Monday under the title “Don’t Ban Equality.”

“Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care — including abortion — threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers,” the ad states.

CEOs from tech companies, media, and fashion, including fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, have signed the agreement. An accompanying website states:

“We, the undersigned, represent more than 108,000 workers and stand against policies that hinder people’s health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace.”

‘The future of gender equality hangs in the balance’

The executives behind the letter were brought together by a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business. It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out,” the ad states.

“The future of gender equality hangs in the balance, putting our families, communities, businesses and the economy at risk.”

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement, the organization is “proud to stand with these business leaders who are saying loudly and clearly — access to reproductive health care, including abortion, is essential for their employees’ equality in the workplace and their lives.

“Their statement today shows that the business community won’t sit on the sidelines while politicians continue to try to take away our reproductive rights.”

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