Corporations and Abortion Rights in a Post-Dobbs World

Jennifer S. Fan - Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
Vol. 57
December 2023
Page 819

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, overturning nearly fifty years of precedent. Although there were those who celebrated the decision, there were also those who were dismayed and angry about its consequences. As a result, many groups mobilized into action, but the vast majority of corporations were not among them. Unlike other social issues, companies were largely silent on the issue of abortion. Using shareholder proposal data from a ten-year period and reproductive health benefits offered by companies, this Article examines how corporations addressed reproductive health issues before and after Dobbs. This Article reveals that very little was done by corporations from a legal perspective in addressing issues of reproductive rights. It argues that more transparency is needed to understand if corporations are truly operating under a stakeholder theory of governance. Specifically, the additional information could help determine whether corporations are meeting the “S” (or social) component of environmental, social, governance (“ESG”) or if their actions are merely performative to assuage the court of public opinion. In addition, this Article contends that corporations need to be held accountable for statements that they make in support of particular social issues through disclosure of their support, or lack thereof, for reproductive health within the ESG context. Otherwise, corporations’ statements become meaningless and are no better than political theater.

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