Companies pledged support for abortion access. Then they gave to the Alabama AG looking to prosecute people who take abortion pills.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Amazon, Chevron, Boeing and Walmart pledged to pay for employees to travel to access abortion. They also spent thousands of dollars to reelect Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who made headlines earlier this month when his office claimed that while the state’s near total ban on abortions does not allow for the prosecution of abortion seekers, a law against “chemical endangerment” of children could be used to prosecute those who access medication abortion. He has since walked back that claim slightly.
Days after the Dobbs decision in June, Marshall also relied on language in the ruling when arguing that Alabama’s ban on gender affirming healthcare for minors was constitutional. The four companies also tout their commitment to their LGBT employees.
Just before the 2022 election, which saw Marshall re-elected to a second full term, Amazon donated $7,500 to Marshall’s campaign. Walmart gave Marshall $2,500 in May 2022, weeks after the Dobbs decision leak. Chevron gave Marshall $5,000 in August 2022, weeks after the Dobbs decision came down. Boeing gave Marshall $2,000 in October 2022.
Marshall speculated about the potential impact of the Dobbs decision after the leak, including how it could aid the state’s defense of a 2019 anti-abortion law, immediately welcomed the Dobbs decision after it officially came down, and ran on his anti-abortion views. Amazon, Chevron, Boeing and Walmart could have known what Marshall’s views were on abortion before they gave.
Amazon also gave the Republican Attorneys General Association $50,000 in November 2022, the same month Marshall was elected chair of the group. The immediate past chair of RAGA, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has also vigorously defended his state’s six-week abortion ban. Marshall has served on the executive committee of RAGA since 2018, and was the head of the association’s dark-money nonprofit Rule of Law Defense Fund in 2021, when it paid for robocalls to promote the Stop the Steal Rally ahead of the January 6 insurrection. Amazon is one of the companies that suspended donations to the Sedition Caucus in the wake of the insurrection (it has since broken its pledge), saying the attack was an “unacceptable attempt to undermine a legitimate democratic process,” meaning Marshall’s stance on abortion is not the only one counter to Amazon’s professed values. Boeing also gave RAGA $25,000 in June 2022, and is one of the top corporate donors to the Sedition Caucus, despite having said after the insurrection that they would “support those who not only support our company, but also uphold our country’s most fundamental principles.”
Amazon, Chevron, Boeing and Walmart are just a few of the companies that have faced backlash for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-abortion political committees in the last few years, while touting their commitment to gender equality. Those totals just account for major groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican State Leadership Committee and the Republican Governors Association. When you add in individual politicians like Marshall and the governors, attorneys general, state legislators and members of Congress seeking to restrict abortion, those totals are likely significantly higher.
When companies claim to be committed to principles like democracy or access to reproductive healthcare, they should expect to be scrutinized for whether their political giving reflects that commitment. Much like we’ve seen with companies giving to the Sedition Caucus, those that claimed to be committed to ensuring their employees could access abortion after the Dobbs decision are frequently giving to the very politicians who are fighting to make it impossible for their employees—or anyone else—to get an abortion.