Coca-Cola Corporation’s donations helped elect Republican candidates whose intent was to end abortion rights in the United States despite its initiative to empower women. In addition, Coke spent over $2.6 million to help bankroll trigger abortion bans to be enacted when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
In addition to Coca-Cola, other big donor companies are General Motors, $2.5 million; Comcast Cable Communications (Xfinity), $1.9 million; AT&T Inc., $1.5 million; CVS Health (Pharmacy), $1.4 million; Walmart Inc., $1.1 million; Amazon.com Inc., $975 thousand; and Verizon, $900 thousand. Most of these corporations claim to support women while simultaneously donating money to groups that fought for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, according to Insider. Both Coca-Cola and AT&T claim to have strong women’s empowerment programs for employees.
Companies across the United States announced they would help women with reproductive care, including transportation to abortion-sanctuary states. However, of the businesses listed above, only Amazon promised to assist its employees. The e-commerce giant vowed to “pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses annually for non-life-threatening medical procedures that are not available within 100 miles of an employee’s home, including abortions,” according to The Hill.
California, Oregon, and Washington formed “the West Coast” alliance: The state’s governors set up special funding to give aid to women seeking legal abortions, according to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee during an interview with a local news station.
These companies apparently did not consider how businesses and employees would be affected as states rolled out new bans against abortion. Employers in abortion trigger law states could find it challenging to attract top female candidates to fill jobs.
Walmart, McDonald’s, Arby’s, the Cheesecake Factory, and the Department of Defense are the largest employers in all 13 trigger-law states: Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Texas, Louisianna, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
Another concern is that thousands of employees may soon be dealing with unintended pregnancies without access to abortions. This could lead to absenteeism as women travel to an abortion-sanctuary state.
Remember the Anti-Apartheid Boycott Against Coca-Cola?
Perhaps, Coca-Cola’s corporate officers forgot the successful nationwide boycott of the company in the 1980s at the height of apartheid in South Africa. The beverage manufacturer entered the South African market in 1938. In 1982, Black workers asked fellow South Africans to boycott Coke products.
Anti-apartheid protesters in the United States organized across the country. Union employees walked out of the plants. As a result of a years-long boycott, Coca-Cola planned to sell most of its stock to a South African firm, but Nelson Mandela’s election ushered in a democratic government, and Coke changed its plans.
Will any of these corporations realize that nearly 60% of adults polled in the United States do not support the Supreme Court’s ruling against abortion? Will it take boycotts to persuade these companies to align themselves with female employees and consumers?
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Business Insider: AT&T, Walmart, Citi, and other megacorporations bankrolled a wave of state abortion bans; by Nicole Guadiano, Tanya Dua, Kimberly Leonard, Andrea Michelson, Sindu Sandar, Rebecca Ungarino, and Angela Wang
Babson Thought & Action: How Coca-Cola is Leading Women’s Empowerment in the Developing World; by Kait Smith Lanthier
The Guardian: Many US companies move to pay travel costs for employees seeking abortions; Edward Helmore
The Hill: These companies will cover abortion travel costs for employees; by Karl Evers-Hillstrom
African Activist Archive: The Struggle for Justice In South Africa pdf; originally published by Washington Office on Africa Educational Fund