A group of Justice Department employees has asked the federal government to offer administrative leave to workers who need to travel outside their state to seek reproductive health care ahead of a Supreme Court ruling that could redefine access to abortion.
“As an initial step, we ask that the Administration swiftly consider requiring federal agencies to grant administrative leave to cover the time it takes an employee, or an employee’s family member, to travel to another state to obtain reproductive health care services not available in their own state due to restrictive laws,” says the letter sent Wednesday by the DOJ’s Gender Equality Network to Biden administration officials.
After this month’s leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion showing the court’s conservative majority is preparing to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision, many private employers have sought to reassure workers with help traveling outside states that ban the procedure. If the draft becomes the court’s official ruling, abortion could be outlawed in as many as 26 states.
On Monday, Starbucks became the latest large company to announce a policy covering costs for employees who need to travel more than 100 miles to get an abortion.
“Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality health care,” said Sara Kelly, Starbucks acting executive vice president of partner resources, according to The Associated Press.
Americans worried about the court’s upcoming decision protested in support of abortion rights across the country over the weekend.
The DOJ employees said help with travel falls under the administration’s executive authority and urged officials to use the same reasoning they applied to offer federal workers and their families time off for COVID vaccinations.
“Likewise, the administration should be able to provide federal workers with a reasonable amount of administrative leave to access reproductive health care for their health, safety and physical and mental wellbeing,” the group wrote.
They also argued this is a “critical matter of gender equity and equality,” citing the impact restrictive laws would have “on employees of color, those who work in remote locations and those from other marginalized communities.”
The assistance could run afoul of the Hyde Amendment, according to The New York Times. The amendment prevents employees on government-funded health care plans from getting insurance coverage for abortion.
The Gender Equality Network said the Hyde Amendment “does not impose restrictions on ancillary accommodations.”