An Open Letter on Reproductive Rights
Dear Corporate America:
Change Finance, P.B.C was founded to leverage the power of capital markets to promote a more just and sustainable world while helping investors meet their financial goals. As investors, we share a common perspective that comprehensive reproductive and maternal healthcare are essential and necessary for the health and wellbeing of workers and their families, and that they should be foremost priorities of the companies in whom we invest. We feel you cannot discuss one without the other and that both are more important than ever in the context of today’s challenging public policy environment.
The 2022 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is not reflective of US public opinion. A recent Reuters poll suggests that 71% of Americans believe that reproductive decisions should be left to the patient and doctor rather than being regulated by the government. The results of the November midterm election reflected this belief. Ballot measures enshrining abortion rights in state constitutions universally succeeded, while those restricting abortion access failed. Employee sentiment also strongly favors access to reproductive health care, and employees expect companies to provide comprehensive reproductive health care benefits. For example, after the Texas law banning abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy went into effect in 2021, a poll found that “roughly 75% of women and 58% of men said the new law would discourage them from working in Texas and that 73% of women and 53% of men said they wouldn't even apply for a job in a state that passed a similar ban.” Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of United States workers and customers.
For a fuller exploration of the business case in support of reproductive and maternal health care at the firm level, we refer you to Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health (Rhia Ventures, 2022) and its companion piece, From Here to Maternity: The Business Case for Strong Maternal Healthcare Benefits in the Corporate Sector. Both reports contain recommendations for the corporate sector that are especially timely due to the disproportionate negative impact of the pandemic on women’s labor force participation; efforts to restrict access to comprehensive reproductive, and in some cases maternal, healthcare; and the continuing struggle to achieve racially equitable health outcomes in the United States.A patchwork of state and federal laws governs the quality, scope, accessibility and affordability of services related to reproductive health care. For example, in the area of contraception, the Affordable Care Act requires that most private health insurance plans cover at least one form of each of 18 FDA-approved methods for women without cost sharing, but a number of states require additional coverage that companies or their insurers could voluntarily assume. With respect to abortion, six states require private insurance coverage, while 11 impose restrictions on it. State policies are similarly variegated with respect to paid parental leave, support for breastfeeding, flexible work hours, and insurance coverage of midwives and doulas.
As investors, we believe the Dobbs decision creates additional risk for corporations and we recommend that, if you haven’t already, you review your insurance and benefits policies to ensure that all employees, regardless of location, continue to have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services and robust maternal and family supports.
We also urge that you consider the company’s public policy positions related to reproductive health care and rights, and how these factor into decisions related to your political spending and lobbying priorities.Sincerely,
Change Finance- Co-CEO