In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs that will send abortion policy decisions back to the states, many big corporations with offices in abortion-restricting states immediately promised to pay all expenses incurred by employees who travel to different states to receive abortions.
This may seem like the typical woke virtue-signaling by Big Business, but something much more sinister underlies this move. This is, in reality, a coldly calculated effort to bolster productivity and profits. Paying for abortions is much cheaper than paying for pregnancy, childbirth, and maternity leave. Abortion is good for the bottom line.
And woke virtue-signaling on abortion is used to deflect attention away from the brutal practices of Big Business, such as the use of slave labor and cooperation with repression in despotic countries in which they operate.
Now the wealthiest law firms in the country, or “Big Law,” are hopping on the abortion bandwagon. In an effort to prop up billable hours in their legal mills, much of Big Law has made the same pledge as Big Business: We will pay all your abortion expenses.
The Big Law profit model depends upon grueling hours put in by young lawyers to fund the high profits enjoyed by equity partners. Childbirth and maternity leave can significantly dent firms’ ability to maintain this profit model. Thus, in the case of both Big Business and Big Law, the message is clear: Get rid of the kid and get back to work.
Many of these Big Law firms have no problem representing corporate polluters, weapons manufacturers, tobacco companies, and despotic foreign governments. Like Big Business, their woke virtue-signaling on abortion helps deflect attention from their often brutal business practices.
The firms touting sponsorship of abortion coverage include such powerhouses as Sidley Austin and Vinson & Elkins, each with a large Texas presence. Texas has enacted a ban on abortion after six weeks when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Vinson & Elkins, for example, with three offices in Texas, last year reported more than $912 million in gross revenue and average profits per equity partner of $3.5 million. The firm recently announced it “will, as part of its health plan, provide a travel benefit for covered health care services that are unavailable locally.”
Sidley Austin, with offices in Houston and Dallas, reported almost $2.8 billion in net revenue in 2021, with average profits per partner of more than $3.7 million. The firm has also stated it will cover abortion-related travel expenses.
Sidley Austin’s statement, in particular, prompted a fierce reaction from the Texas Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Texas legislators. In a July 7 letter to the firm’s Dallas-based managing partner, the Freedom Caucus wrote, “It has come to our attention that Sidley Austin has decided to reimburse the travel costs of employees who leave Texas to murder their unborn children” and that “[i]t also appears that Sidley has been complicit in illegal abortions that were performed in Texas before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs.”
The letter goes on to state that to the extent Sidley is facilitating abortions, “it is exposing itself and each of its partners to felony criminal prosecution and disbarment.” The letter adds that the Freedom Caucus would be “introducing legislation next session that will impose additional civil and criminal sanctions on law firms that pay for abortions or abortion travel.” Sidley has not yet responded publicly.
But others denizens of Big Law have weighed in, and they are incensed at the proposed Texas legislative action. In a recent LinkedIn post, a senior lawyer at Morrison & Foerster, another firm with a significant Texas presence, went on an unhinged rant against Texas officials and, in particular, Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has led the fight against abortion.
The post — ignoring the fact that many lawyers are pro-life — fulminates that “[t]he Attorney General of Texas has threatened Sidley and Austin, a distinguished law firm committed to the rule of law, with criminal prosecution for its offering to pay travel expenses for abortion. … Every lawyer, every bar association at every level, and every law office in the United States needs to come to the defense of our brothers and sisters in that respected firm. This attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
None of the firms announcing they would pay for abortion costs post-Dobbs announced any enhancement of their maternity leave policies, thus indicating a decided preference that pregnant staff abort their pregnancies and get back to work rather than allow children to be born.