A smartphone with Facebook's logo is seen in front of displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration taken October 28, 2021.
A smartphone with Facebook's logo is seen in front of displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration taken October 28, 2021. Reuters / DADO RUVIC

U.S. companies including Walt Disney Co and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc said on Friday they will cover employees' expenses if they have to travel for abortion services after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 ruling that recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalized it nationwide, handing a momentous victory to Republicans and religious conservatives who want to limit or ban and, in some states criminalize, the procedure.

Many states are expected to further restrict or ban abortions following the ruling, making it difficult for female employees to terminate pregnancies unless they travel to states where the procedure is allowed.

For example, in Oklahoma a bill signed in April bans abortion except in medical emergencies and penalizes providers who violate the law with up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years in prison. The law is due to take effect in August. States offering abortion protections include New York and Maryland.

Disney told employees on Friday that it recognizes the impact of the abortion ruling, but remains committed to providing comprehensive access to quality healthcare, including for abortions, according to a Disney spokesperson.

Meta will reimburse travel expenses for employees seeking out-of-state reproductive care, but the company was also "assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved," according to a spokesperson.

Companies that offer reimbursements for abortion-related travel could be vulnerable to lawsuits by pro-life groups and Republican-led states, and even potential criminal penalties.

Lawyers and other experts said employers could face claims that their policies violate state laws banning, facilitating or aiding and abetting abortions.

A draft of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion was leaked in May. At that time, many other companies including online review site Yelp and Microsoft Corp and Tesla said they will help cover the cost of travel for employees seeking reproductive services.

Yelp co-founder and Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman on Friday said the ruling "puts women's health in jeopardy, denies them their human rights, and threatens to dismantle the progress we've made toward gender equality in the workplace since Roe."

Alaska Air Group, parent of Alaska Airlines, said on Friday it is "reimbursing travel for certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live. Today's Supreme Court decision does not change that."

Other companies offering the benefit include online dating sites OkCupid and Bumble Inc, Netflix Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co, the nation's largest bank.

"OkCupid is horrified by the news of Roe being overturned. This is an issue of gender equality and an issue of human rights," said. OkCupid Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Hobey.

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