With the recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, many questions have come up about what this decision means for pregnant employees and seeking an abortion. Before the decision, some employers covered abortions in their health insurance, but now that abortion is not legal in every state, this coverage may differ. Here are some big questions employers will have to face in a post-Roe v. Wade United States.
Is Travel to get an Abortion a Medical Expense?
With states having trigger laws that made abortion illegal immediately, employees seeking an abortion may have to travel to get an abortion. This would obviously cost money, as the employee would have to cross state lines by transportation to receive the procedure’s medication. Would an employer have to cover this as a medical cost? For now, the answer is a tentative yes. Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code includes payment for transportation when the medical care is “for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.” It has been ruled that abortion would fall under this definition, meaning that employers would have to cover this cost unless it is above the level of reimbursement that the IRS decided.
Would there be Legal Repercussions for treating/receiving an abortion?
Some states, Texas and Missouri, for example, have been trying to enact laws that would punish the medical professionals providing the abortion and the individual receiving the procedure, regardless of where the procedure occurred. The question is if that is constitutional and if the state has jurisdiction to charge the individuals with crimes. This issue would have to require the United States Supreme Court because it is an issue that crosses two states’ jurisdictions. Brett Kavanaugh, an Associate Supreme Court Justice, mentioned that the right to interstate travel is above the state law to prevent any abortion no matter what.
As an employer, now is the time to really listen to the needs of your employees. For employees, make sure you voice any concerns with your employer about how to ensure that you get the appropriate care that you need. This is a very stressful time for a lot of individuals in our country. There will be more cases coming about regarding abortion rights, so stay tuned to see what happens with that.
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