The Fight for Reproductive Health Access
Dear U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Members of Congress,
As human beings, we mourn the denying of the fundamental human right to health care to anyone, but as citizens, we are particularly angered at the cowardly way the Supreme Court enabled this to happen literally under the cover of night. At first, we felt powerless waking up knowing that access to reproductive health care had been stripped from pregnant people while vigilante bounty hunters had been handed a weapon to impose their belief system on an entire state. Yet, as investors, we do have powerful and effective tools we can use to add our voice to the chorus fighting for equality and human rights.
Marathon, not a Sprint
The fight for reproductive health access did not begin this month and will not end this year. We firmly believe that this access is a fundamental right, and have long recognized that we have the ability and responsibility to raise social issues of importance with the companies we invest in. In this case, focusing on the importance employees place on reproductive health benefits has helped us turn the companies we invest in into allies—after all, we share the goal of their workforces being productive and able to focus on work, not worrying about how they will access health care. And just as investor voices matter to companies, corporate voices matter to policy makers, for better or worse. Accordingly, our shareholder advocacy work around reproductive health has focused on these paths - ensuring employers provide access to healthcare for employees and disclosure of contributions to politicians that seek to restrict this access. In our public policy work pushing for access for all, we recognize the importance of working in coalitions, as we partner with non-profit and advocacy organizations as well as other investors and companies to promote our shared goals.
In 2015, we began our advocacy work in this field, engaging several companies about the sexual and reproductive health benefits they offer their employees. As the Trump era began eroding access in 2017, Trillium, alongside a leading group of institutional investors, called on the 50 largest employers of the Fortune 500 to commit to continue providing their employees with access to contraception and other reproductive health care benefits. We have continued to work continuously over the last four years on this effort, engaging a dozen portfolio companies with our friends at Rhia Ventures.
In 2018, we joined the U.S. Women’s Chamber ofCommerce and 15 other businesses in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to uphold the Affordable CareAct’s provisions requiring employers to provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health coverage to their employees.
In 2019, Trillium partnered with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM), the largest Planned Parenthood Affiliate in the country, to co-author an article in the Opinion page of the San Jose Mercury News titled “New Title X family planning rules hurt families, economy.” We also joined 180 other companies that year in a full page New York Times ad called Don’t Ban Equality stating, “Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers.” That year we also met with officials at the Office of Management and Budget, along with partners at Planned Parenthood, advocating for an economic analysis of rules restricting reproductive health access.
Since 2019, we have engaged a dozen companies about their political activities as we’ve seen legislative attacks on reproductive rights reaching new heights. In particular, through letters and one-on-one meetings with companies we have been pressing companies on their political contributions and how they impact reproductive rights and maternal healthcare.
So What Now?
We believe that the best way we can contribute to this fight is to continue the work we have been doing, in coalition with partners to point out the importance of the fundamental right of access to reproductive health care to American employers and employees. We are happy to announce today that, along with over 50 other companies, we have signed on to a new letter demonstrating our commitment to equality and equity in the workplace in the wake of SB8 inTexas - and acknowledging the negative business and economic impact laws like this have. In addition to our signature of this letter, we have also engaged numerous of our portfolio companies asking them to sign as well, highlighting the importance of this issue to their own employees. For more information and to see the full list of signatories, please see https://dontbanequality.com. We anticipate continued legal challenges to this law and others seeking to restrict access to health care, which we will continue to support in any way we can.
In the meantime, we are donating $10,000 to the Afiya Center and Fund Texas Choice. The Afiya Center is a Texas based Reproductive Justice organization centered on black womxn achieving reproductive freedom, including providing aide in abortion services as well as policy work focused on issues surrounding reproductive rights and abortion access; Fund Texas Choice provides travel and accommodation assistance for Texas residents that need to travel out of state to access abortion care.
If you would similarly like to support an organization providing services to Texans or challenging this law, this list provides resources. And because this law is sadly not likely to be the last, the National Network of Abortion Funds has information on groups performing similar work in other states.
While our rights as Americans to reproductive health care are far from secure in this tenuous moment, the fight is also far from over. We urge all of our clients, colleagues and friends to keep talking about the importance of this issue to everyone we can, including contacting your members of Congress and other elected officials. NARAL has a scorecard of Congress members’ voting record with an easy way to call, and this website has an easy way to email your Representative. Together, we will keep fighting for this vital right, for all Americans, no matter where we live.