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Democracy

Patagonia says it will pay bail for employees arrested in abortion rights protests

A powerful statement from one of our nation's most trusted brands.

supreme court abortion
Everyone loves someone who had an abortion and other prote… | Flickr

In today's economy, people who work are demanding more accountability from their employers: better wages, benefits, transparency and alignment on values. The emphasis on shared values is coming to the forefront in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which removes federal protections for abortion. States, local governments and individuals are scrambling to react to the decision, which tosses out 50 years of legal precedence.

While the nation sorts out the politics and future legal decisions surrounding reproductive health, some companies are getting ahead of the issue by coming out publicly to support abortion rights, commonly referred to as "reproductive justice" by activists and advocates of a woman's right to choose. One of the most outspoken companies is Patagonia, which announced in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that it will not only financially support individuals who choose to have an abortion but it will provide funds to pay the bail for individuals who face legal expenses while protesting for reproductive justice.


In a statement on Patagonia's LinkedIn page, the company writes:

"Caring for employees extends beyond basic health insurance, so we take a more holistic approach to coverage and support overall wellness to which every human has a right. That means offering employees the dignity of access to reproductive health care. It means supporting employees’ choices around if or when they have a child. It means giving parents the resources they need to work and raise children."

As part of that commitment, Patagonia announced that all U.S. employees are covered for abortion care as part of their healthcare coverage. "Where restrictions exist, travel, lodging and food are covered." This includes 100% of copay costs for mental health visits.

Importantly, Patagonia showed why reproductive rights and healthcare are truly a holistic matter. In the same statement, Patagonia listed how it also supports those individuals and families who choose to have children, writing:

We support new parents with:

  • Two types of paid leave: 4 weeks of paid pregnancy disability leave and/or 12 weeks of paid parental bonding leave.
  • Private spaces to feed infants.
  • Child-care support for parents on work trips.
  • Subsidized, on-site high-quality child care.
  • Child-care stipends for parents who do not live near one of our child-care centers.

But it was a political component of Patagonia's message that went viral, with the company stating that all part-time and full-time employees will receive:

  • Training and bail for those who peacefully protest for reproductive justice.
  • Resources to make informed decisions at the ballot box.
  • Time off to vote.
Educational voting resources and time off to vote simply should not be a political issue. Our democracy and our politics would be stronger with greater participation and understanding of how our government works. It's a principle that proves values regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. If you want to advocate and vote for greater public financial assistance, it's obviously helpful to know which programs need more help and how to speak to that. Likewise, if you are a critic of government waste and believe certain issues are better handled in the private sector, participating as an informed voter helps your cause.

But it's the willingness of Patagonia to provide financial cover for its employees who peacefully protest in favor of reproductive justice that truly makes the company stand out. How many companies are willing to go that extra mile to empower their companies to be good citizens, not just good employees?

As a company here at Upworthy, we've always been proud of the work Patagonia does to protect our planet from the threat of climate change. Putting principles first is a great way for a company such as Patagonia to show that it not only makes a great product but that it uses the goodwill and trust its brand has created to help make the world a better place for everyone. We'd all like to see a world where those principles are restored to the highest order within the halls of our government, where elected officials do the work of the people for the people. But until we achieve that more perfect union, it's important to know that where we spent our money outside of politics can go a long way toward protecting the values we cherish.


Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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