Abortion protest in Austin shows hundreds marching from Texas capitol
Hundreds of protesters marched from the Capitol to the US Federal Courthouse in Austin to rally for abortion rights on Tuesday May 3, 2022.
Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman
Austin-based automaker Tesla is covering travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, joining the ranks of major companies that have introduced a similar policy in the wake of new restrictions that Texas and some other states have implemented in the past few months .
The company said in its 2021 “Impact Report” released Friday that it expanded its Safety Net program and health insurance offerings last year to include “travel and lodging support for those who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state.”
The automaker officially moved its corporate headquarters last year from Silicon Valley to Austin. Texas lawmakers last year passed a law banning abortions at roughly six weeks of pregnancy.
Other states have since introduced new restrictions, and a political firestorm was set off this week with the leaked draft of a US Supreme Court opinion that could abolish a nationwide right to an abortion.
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Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are taking aim at corporations offering to help women seeking abortions in states with less restrictive laws.
Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, has said he would propose legislation barring local governments in the state from doing business with any company that provides travel benefits for employees seeking abortions. Nationally, US Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, introduced a bill Wednesday that would prohibit companies from claiming tax deductions for such costs.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he tweeted in September that he believes “government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”
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Central Texas has become a focal point for Musk-led companies. Musk last year announced that he was moving Tesla’s corporate headquarters from California to Travis County, on the site of the automaker’s $1.1 billion manufacturing plant. The Boring Company, Musk’s tunneling and infrastructure company, also has a Central Texas headquarters, as does his private foundation.
On April 26, social media platform Twitter announced that it had agreed to be purchased by Musk for about $44 billion, fueling speculation that Musk could consider moving Twitter’s corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Austin.
This report includes material from The Associated Press and American-Statesman reporter Kara Carlson.