This morning, Alexander Burns reported that “For companies anchored in economically vibrant conservative states like Texas, Tennessee and Georgia, the rollback of women’s rights… represents a potential disruption to the calculus that has made Republican-led Sun Belt states a draw for big companies, which have tended to embrace the reduced taxes and regulations while treating local social policy as something of a sideshow. That bargain may have grown more difficult in states that have imposed punitive abortion restrictions, banning the procedure altogether or limiting it nearly to the point of elimination. Some of the country’s biggest businesses, including JPMorgan Chase, AT&T and the Walt Disney Company, have already announced they would take steps to help employees who need abortion access but cannot obtain it in their home states. There have not yet been major announcements about companies canceling expansions or relocating offices out of jurisdictions where abortion is now banned.”
Republicans in backward, theocratically-oriented state legislatures have already put punitive action against companies that help their employees skirt the Gilead-like laws on the table. And, although companies are loath to give up economic opportunities in Texas and Georgia, the reactionary legislation in economically backward states like Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Alabama is not going to be helpful at all.
Burns wrote that “In states like Texas and Georgia, Republican lawmakers are effectively wagering that the local business environment will remain appealing enough to overcome concerns about women’s rights. And to some conservative politicians, the risk of alienating business investment is a price worth paying to eradicate abortion.” This could turn out especially badly for Midwestern states fighting the economic trends and trying for comebacks, particularly Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, all of whom have been trying to rebuild but are burdened with extremist legislatures on the warpath and eager to turn back the clock on rights in general.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) warned on Wednesday that he will veto any abortion ban approved by the Republican legislature, and said any such measure “would have a negative effect on economic growth here in our state.”
Some Republican-controlled states that have already imposed limits on abortions, like Florida and South Carolina, are weighing whether to tighten them even further. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, perhaps the most prominent conservative governor, has enacted a 15-week ban, but some state legislators are pushing for a so-called heartbeat bill that would block all but the earliest abortions.
Gina Raimondo, the nation’s commerce secretary, said in an interview that the states imposing rigid abortion bans were all but certain to suffer economically.
“I’ve spoken to CEOs who are rethinking those states,” said Raimondo, a [Wall Street] Democrat. “I think the cumulative effect will, over time, develop to be quite significant.”
Big companies are fighting a “war for talent,” Raimondo said, and particularly for female talent given that women make up a growing majority of new college graduates. A former [failed] governor of Rhode Island, Raimondo predicted that companies would find it difficult to recruit skilled workers in states where women’s rights and medical services were sharply curtailed.
There is data to back up that view: A survey published this month by the Pew Research Center found that more than 3 in 5 people with college and postgraduate degrees disapproved of the Supreme Court’s decision, along with nearly 70 percent of people under 30. Sixty-two percent of women disapproved of the decision, according to the survey.
A young and educated cohort of workers has been pushing companies in recent years to be more vocal in speaking out on issues of broad social concern, including gay rights and racial justice, bringing some major corporations into conflict with the conservative-leaning states they call home.
Some liberal states are already depicting their abortion rights policies as a business advantage, reinforcing the appeal of the wealthier and more progressive states that many businesses opt to call home in spite of their taxes.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, suggested that companies should consider his state’s ironclad abortion rights protections as an inducement to expand there. [Gov. JB] Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist before entering politics, said in a recent interview that his administration was including information about Illinois’s permissive abortion laws in its recruitment pitch to companies…
This is not the first time in recent years when right-wing social policies have thrown state-level business competition into turmoil. In 2016, Republican lawmakers in North Carolina triggered a multiyear business boycott by passing a law— known as the “bathroom bill”— requiring transgender people to use facilities that matched the gender they were assigned at birth. Two years earlier, the business community in Arizona mobilized in force against so-called religious freedom legislation that could have opened the door to discrimination against LGBTQ people.
In Virginia, a 2012 attempt by far-right legislators to mandate that women receive invasive ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion caused outrage among moderate voters and corporate leaders, helping vault a pro-business Democrat into the governorship the next year. In 2011, the Mississippi business community rallied to defeat a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have granted legal rights to a fertilized egg, defying the Roe v. Wade decision that was then in place.
Reuters reported that there are women deciding to not attend colleges in states with abortion bans, which will especially hurt colleges and medical schools (and the neighboring economies) in places that have been attracting large numbers of out-of-state students, schools like Oberlin in Ohio, University of Texas in Austin, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But it may surprise you to know that some of the state universities in red states have enormous percentages of out-of-state students and those institutions would be hurt really badly if that income stream dried up. Ten top examples in states with aggressively anti-Choice legislatures and governors:
North Dakota State University, Fargo- 65%
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa- 63%
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks- 61%
University of Mississippi- 57%
Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC- 54%
Kentucky State University, Frankfurt- 52%
Peru State College, Peru, Nebraska- 52%
Langston University, Langston, OK- 51%
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville- 50%
University of Wyoming, Laramie- 50%
This morning, Michigan advocates of Choice brought petitions with 753,759 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office for an abortion rights amendment to the state constitution— the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment. The Detroit Free Press reported that it was the most petition signatures turned in in the history of Michigan constitutional amendments. It will certainly roil the midterms in the state. There are, for example 4 congressional districts in Michigan-- possibly five-- where a big turnout for the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment could ease the way for Democratic victories in MI-03 (GOP incumbent Peter Meijer looks very vulnerable), MI-07 (Democratic incumbent Elissa Slotkin looks vulnerable but this amendment vote could save her), MI-08 (same for Dan Kildee), MI-10 (an open seat with 7 candidates competing in the primary but with an R+6 partisan lean). And the amendment is likely to clinch reelection prospects forGov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, all of whom are running against anti-Choice, Trump-supported crackpots.