87th Legislature88th LegislatureTesla Promises Travel Coverage for Employees’ Abortions if ‘Unavailable in Their Home State’

Tesla expanded its employee benefits to include travel support for employees seeking "healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state."
May 6, 2022
Texas-based electric car manufacturer, Tesla, expanded its employee benefits last year to include “travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state,” according to a company report released Friday.

This coverage includes travel costs for abortions, The Washington Post reported.

Tesla is not alone. It follows Levi Strauss & Co., Yelp, and Citigroup in promising travel coverage for abortions. More explicitly than Tesla, Citigroup promised travel support “in response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states,” which some Texas Republicans said might land the banking giant in legal trouble.

After news broke of Citigroup’s new policy, state Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) suggested that it could run afoul of a state law passed in 2019 that forbids state and local governments from entering into any “taxpayer resource transaction” with abortion providers and their affiliates.

Tesla would face a more imminent legal hazard under the Texas Heartbeat Act, a state law that bans the abortion of unborn children with detectable cardiac activity and authorizes civil lawsuits against anybody that “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” a post-heartbeat abortion, including “paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise.”

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In addition to the civil lawsuits authorized by the Heartbeat Act for post-heartbeat abortions, Tesla’s conduct could potentially draw direct prosecution under a much older state law.

After Citi announced its new policy, state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) sent the company a cease-and-desist letter warning that the company’s conduct could result in felony criminal liability under the state’s dormant but still unrepealed abortion ban.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban itself unconstitutional in Roe v. Wade. But since Roe said the Constitution conferred a right to abortion, but not a right to furnish the means to procure an abortion, Cain says the unrepealed statute against furnishing abortions can be currently enforced by direct prosecution. The law only goes unenforced now, Cain believes, because abortion funds operate in Democratic counties with district attorneys unwilling to prosecute them.

Cain also promised to file a bill in the 2023 state legislative session that would forbid local governments from doing business with any company that covers abortion expenses for its employees.

Tesla struck a deal with Travis County and the Del Valle Independent School District for tax breaks worth at least $60 million.

The company also offers its employees fertility services, maternity leave, and “transgender benefits aligned with the clinical protocol set forth by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.”

A draft majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court leaked earlier this week strongly repudiates Roe. If the court maintains this position and officially overrules the case, Texas will begin enforcing a statewide ban on all abortions not meant to save the mother from death or severe bodily impairment.

This law would not allow any penalties on the mother herself. The same provision exists in the Heartbeat Act.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.