Walmart will expand employee abortion coverage and related travel expenses with its healthcare plans “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability,” according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC. This expansion of employee healthcare was made in response to the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a reversal that transferred the power of determining a woman’s right to choose to individual states.
These healthcare coverage options are being extended to Walmart employees and family members who are included in the company’s insurance program, with travel expenses covered if beneficiaries are unable to access abortion legally within 100 miles of their location. In the memo, Walmart also revealed that it would launch a center for fertility services and committed to expanding its adoption support from $5,000 to $20,000.
This benefits expansion, which was outlined in an email sent by Donna Morris, Chief People Officer at Walmart, is a significant move. The company is headquartered in Arkansas, where trigger laws were in place to overturn abortion rights upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Following the court’s decision, Arkansas law now preserves legal abortion only in cases in which the procedure will save the life of the mother.
Prior to Walmart’s decision, the retailer offered limited abortion coverage, noting that this type of reproductive healthcare would only be covered if “the health of the mother would be in danger if the fetus were carried to term, the fetus could not survive the birthing process, or death would be imminent after birth,” according to the company’s employee handbook. In her email, Morris noted that the company implemented the change after “listening to our associates about what’s important to them.”
Walmart employs approximately 1.6 million people in the U.S., making it the largest private employer in the country. The retailer promoted its employee benefits earlier this year as it sought to fill more than 50,000 associate jobs in the country.