Can corporations save us from the attack on reproductive rights?
When our political system fails us, when our electoral system fails us and when even our judicial system fails us, can corporate America serve as our final firewall against terrible state policies designed to rob women of their reproductive autonomy?
That is not a reassuring question to have to consider.
This year, more than a dozen states have worked to ban abortion about six weeks after conception, before many women even realize they're pregnant. In a handful of states, the bills have already been signed into law. Combined, they place draconian new limits on women's control over their bodies, limits that appear to contravene Roe v. Wade, as well as Americans' own mixed views on abortion rights.
Georgia's new law, for instance, may interact with other statutes already on the books to criminalize leaving the state or even helping someone leave the state for an abortion. Depending on how the law is interpreted, women who miscarry might be interrogated or even prosecuted.
Missouri banned abortion at eight weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest -- exceptions favored even by 57 percent of Americans who self-identify as "pro-life," according to Gallup. Doctors who violate the law would face up to 15 years in prison.
Alabama's governor has signed a law that bans nearly all abortions, also with no exclusions for rape or incest; it threatens doctors who perform abortions with up to 99 years in prison. A doctor in Alabama who helps end the pregnancy of a raped 13-year-old could therefore be subject to a harsher prison sentence than the person who committed the rape.
Such legislation presents a terrifying situation for women who miscarry or otherwise have complicated pregnancies; for women and girls who are victims of sexual assault; or for women who simply wish to control their own reproductive health choices.
But such legislation also presents a problem for companies in these states.
There are, after all, lots of big firms headquartered in places such as Atlanta, Columbus, St. Louis and Birmingham. Many have worked hard to recruit and retain talent, including young female talent.
What kind of sales pitch is it to say: Come join Coca-Cola in sunny Atlanta -- where if you have a miscarriage, you might be questioned by police!