In response to a mid-March announcement by Citigroup Inc. that it would begin covering travel expenses for its employees living in states that limited or nearly banned abortions, a Texas lawmaker has threatened to block the bank's ability to underwrite municipal bonds in the state, The New York Times reports.
RELATED STORY: Texas women driving hours, flooding clinics in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Kansas for abortions
Houston-based Republican Rep. Briscoe Cain sent cease and desist letters to Citigroup and abortion funds announcing he would introduce a bill barring them from doing business with any company “that pays abortion-related expenses of its employees or that provides abortion coverage as an employee benefit.” To Jane Fraser Citigroup’s CEO, he called the company’s policy a “grotesque abuse” of her “fiduciary duty.”
Cain wrote that “employees, volunteers, and donors of abortion funds will be criminally prosecuted if they do not immediately halt their illegal acts and stop paying for abortions performed in Texas.”
“These are criminal organizations,” he added. “It is a crime to pay for another person’s abortion in Texas, and anyone who gives money to these abortion funds will be prosecuted.”
Citigroup has 8,500 employees in Texas. Travel expenses provided by the company would provide for things such as lodging and airfare if a person must leave their home state to receive an abortion, according to Bloomberg.
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In a filing written for an April 26 meeting, Citigroup wrote: “In response to changes in reproductive health-care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources.”
Cain is a devout Big Lie-er. Texas Monthly reports that he flew to Pennsylvania after the 2020 election to challenge the state’s results. He’s been a vocal advocate in his home state for making it more challenging to vote by mail or help senior citizens to vote.
On May 19, 2021, Texas law SB 8 went into effect, banning abortion when a heartbeat could be detected in a fetus—which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy, often before a person knows they’re pregnant. Since then, Texans have been leaving the state in droves to seek abortions elsewhere.
Citigroup is not the only company with policies designed to assist employees seeking abortions who are living in restrictive states such as Texas.
In September 2021, Salesforce told employees the company would help them and their families relocate if they had issues with reproductive health care in their states.
Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff tweeted: “Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice.”
A note obtained by CNBC from Salesforce reads: “These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us — especially women … We recognize and respect that we all have deeply held and different perspectives. As a company, we stand with all of our women at Salesforce and everywhere.”
They added: “With that being said, if you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family.”
Lyft CEO Logan Green announced the company would pay legal fees for any drivers sued under the Texas law for helping women get abortions.
The parent company of Tinder and OkCupid, Match Group Inc., announced it too was creating a fund for its Texas employees impacted by the abortion law.
In an internal note to employees, Shar Dubey, Match Group’s CEO, wrote that the company “doesn’t usually take political stands unless it is relevant to our business ... but this particular law is so regressive to the cause of women’s rights that I felt compelled to speak publicly about my personal views.”
She added: “[I] immigrated to America from India over 25 years ago and I have to say, as a Texas resident, I am shocked that I now live in a state where women’s reproductive laws are more regressive than most of the world, including India.”
According to Bloomberg, the dating app Bumble Inc. also announced a fund that would support “the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in Texas.”