Starbucks Corp. is once again plunging itself into the national debate on a controversial issue.
The coffee said Monday it is expanding its U.S. health care benefit to cover eligible travel expenses for employees seeking abortions or gender-affirming procedures when the services are not available within 100 miles of the employee’s home. The benefit will also apply to dependents of employees enrolled in Starbucks' health care plan.
The decision comes following the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would strike down Roe v. Wade.
“Like many of you, I’m deeply concerned by the draft Supreme Court opinion related to the constitutional right to abortion that was first established by Roe v. Wade,” Sara Kelly, acting executive VP, partner resources, Starbucks, wrote in a letter to employees. “I know this is weighing on many of you, so let me be clear upfront – regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare.”
Starbucks has 240,000 U.S. employees. The company said it is still working on the specifics and timing of the benefit expansion.
In offering to cover travel costs for abortions, Starbucks joins a small but growing list of companies that include Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Lyft, Tesla, Salesforce and Levi Straus & Co.
Starbucks has a reputation for being a champion of liberal causes. It was an early advocate of same-sex. In 2017, it sparked criticism over a plan to hire refugees.