Elon vs. the right: Tesla to help foil abortion bans by paying travel expenses for workers seeking abortions out of state

Britta Pedersen/Pool via AP

What was I just saying about corporate America facing no-win dilemmas post-Roe?

Tesla is a special case, of course, since conservatives actually admire its CEO. Ten years ago I never would have guessed that a guy who heads an electric-car company because he’s terrified of climate change would become a folk hero to the right, but his expensive effort to un-woke Twitter has done that for him. Temporarily.


But if this company policy stays on the books, he’s on a collision course with Republicans in Texas. Imagine moving your corporate HQ from California to Austin, then opening a gigantic new factory less than a month ago, and now discovering that your benefits policy on abortion is set to put you on the wrong side of your new home state’s perennial governing party.

Musk is going to have to let an awful lot of Groypers back onto Twitter to atone to MAGA for this.

Tesla is covering travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, joining the ranks of major companies who’ve introduced a similar policy to benefit workers affected by new restrictions 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.”…

Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain, a Republican, 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.

Pro-life states are already at work on measures that would make it harder for women residents to cross state lines to obtain abortions. In Missouri a bill has been proposed that would let residents there sue anyone who assists a Missouri woman in aborting, even if the procedure happens out of state. That’s unusual, but in a country where roughly half the states will permit the practice and half won’t, it’s inevitable that the latter group will grasp for ways to deter interstate travel by pregnant women. If they don’t, they’re not really trying to prevent abortion. They’re just making it a hassle.


Unless, that is, you’re lucky enough to work for Tesla or some other major company that’ll comp your airfare if you live in a red state and need to fly to a blue one for your abortion. Tesla’s policy is overtly designed to render Texas’s ban ineffective, at least for its own employees. Musk vs. Abbott: Let the battle be joined.

Here’s an interesting pair of tweets from last year, after Tesla announced its move to Texas:

Libertarians tend to support legal abortion (although not always) and Musk has a libertarian streak. Except for all of those state subsidies his company eagerly gorges on. And, uh, his oft-stated admiration for totalitarian China.

Although the Chinese are big fans of abortion too, come to think of it, even if no one would call them “pro-choice.”

I wrote yesterday about some of the complications that will arise once Roe is gone and each state gets to go its own way on abortion. The big legal self-sorting will lead to a population self-sorting, starting of course with abortion providers:

Blue states — including California, Oregon, Minnesota, Maryland and Massachusetts — are taking steps to prepare for a potential influx in patients seeking abortion care if Roe falls.

Many abortion providers “are planning to move or travel to places where they will be able to continue to care for patients,” Alhambra Frarey, an OB-GYN in Pennsylvania and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement.

That means there is likely going to be a “saturation” of abortion providers in urban areas, particularly in blue states, said Iman Alsaden, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, which covers Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.


As others have noted, the long period in which you could take for granted what sort of rights your home state might afford you is drawing to an end. And not just because of abortion. Compare the rights a Floridian enjoyed during the pandemic to the rights of a New Yorker during the same period. Going forward, where you live in the U.S. will matter in basic ways beyond what your state’s income tax rate happens to be. That’s always been part of the scheme of federalism, of course, but instead of 50 distinct state laboratories tinkering with policy we’re apt to end up with two blocs in which the policies of the states within each will be more or less the same in terms of rights. Two nations within one — not divorced, just semi-amicably separated due to irreconcilable differences.

Exit question: Why is Trump keeping an uncharacteristically low profile on his apparent yuge forthcoming win on Dobbs? Is it because he doesn’t want to put the cart before the horse, or because he fears that Dems overperforming this fall will be blamed on him afterward for having appointed anti-Roe judges?

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