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Bumble, Ben & Jerry’s, OkCupid and Yelp on why they’re defending Roe v Wade

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By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

May 5, 2022 | 9 min read

A number of brands that recently introduced policies to expand employees’ access to reproductive care in light of restrictive state-level legislation like Texas’s Senate Bill 8 have remained mum on the leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion indicating that Roe v Wade is poised for reversal. However, a small contingent of brands are voicing support for abortion rights – and putting their money where their mouth is.

Amid widespread protests over a leaked draft of a US Supreme Court decision suggesting that the court’s conservative justices are set to overturn Roe v Wade, some brands are speaking out.

Roe v Wade protest sign

An outspoken group of brands are voicing their opposition to reversing Roe v Wade

Dating apps including Bumble and Match Group’s OkCupid, as well as Yelp, Ben & Jerry’s and a smattering of other brands, have published statements staunchly defending the landmark decision, which in 1973 legalized abortion nationwide.

The decision to take a stance is bound to be a divisive one; a joint study between Politico and Morning Consult released this week following the leak indicates that over half (51%) of registered US voters support when brands speak out about abortion access. Support among men and women voters is roughly even. However, opinions differ significantly across party lines: while 76% of Democrats say they support companies’ decision to speak out, just 28% of Republicans feel the same way.

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Most major brands – even those that have previously been outspoken on similar issues – are keeping tight-lipped. Though Amazon, Citigroup, Salesforce and other organizations announced new policies designed to help employees travel or relocate to receive necessary reproductive care in response to a slate of restrictive state-level regulations passed recently (including Texas’s controversial Senate Bill 8, or ‘Heartbeat Bill’), those same companies have stayed quiet in the aftermath of Monday’s news.

A spokesperson for Dell, whose chief executive Michael Dell has voiced his opposition to Georgia’s stringent abortion policy (as well as other issues like voter suppression in the US), responded to a request for comment, saying: “We’re not going to comment on a draft opinion. Our focus is on our team members and supporting them with the benefits and support they need.” Even Disney, which is embattled in a dispute with Florida governor Ron DeSantis over the state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill forbidding the teaching of gender-related issues to children younger than third grade, is taking a back seat on this week’s news.

In contrast, a small minority of companies have made it a point to denounce the leaked opinion and defend Roe.

OkCupid lets a quiver fly

Dating app OkCupid, which has made headlines for its irreverent marketing focused on inclusivity and diversity, is one such company. The organization on Tuesday tweeted its support for Roe v Wade and encouraged followers to take action via Don’t Ban Equality, a group dedicated to gaining corporate support for abortion rights backed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Rhia Ventures and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“OkCupid has been a long-term public advocate of reproductive healthcare,” says Michael Kaye, the dating app’s associate director of global communications. “We started working with Planned Parenthood in 2017 when we launched our #IStandWithPP profile badge, and in response to the passage of Senate Bill 8 last year we announced our ‘I’m Pro-Choice’ profile badge so that users who want to show their support of abortion access can add to their profile.”

To date, the organization has made over $110,000 of donations to Planned Parenthood as part of these and other initiatives – including its provocative ‘Ask Yourself’ campaign. Kaye says that the issue of abortion is “top-of-mind” for daters across the globe and that more than 70% of OkCupid users added the ‘I’m Pro-Choice’ badge to their profile. In fact, the issue appears to be more important to single folks than ever; the platform has seen a 77% year-on-year lift in mentions of abortion-related issues on user profiles.

“We want to pave the way and hope other brands follow our lead,’ says Kaye. But Kaye has a personal stake in the fight too. Before giving birth to him at 19, his biological mother had an abortion at the age of 16 with the understanding that she would not be able to support a child. “It’s extremely disheartening that we’re even having this conversation,” he says. “Women deserve the right to choose what’s best for them, regardless of the circumstances.”

Yelp funds its fight

Yelp is another major brand taking action. On Tuesday, following the leak, the organization’s cofounder and chief executive Jeremy Stoppelman announced that the Yelp Foundation would double-match all employee donations to Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and NARAL Pro-Choice America through the month of June. The commitment follows Yelp’s previous efforts; last fall, it doubled employee donations to organizations combating Texas’s Senate Bill 8 and similar regulations in other states, as well as organizations focused on providing reproductive healthcare and financial support to underserved women.

“Overturning Roe v Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies,” a Yelp spokesperson said in a statement shared with The Drum. “Turning back the clock on the progress women have made over the past 50 years will have a seismic impact on our society and economy. This goes against the will of the vast majority of Americans who agree that decisions around reproductive care should be made by women and their doctors.”

The company’s stance is that it’s Congress’s responsibility to codify abortion rights into law. “In the meantime,” said the spokesperson, “more companies will need to step up to safeguard their employees and provide equal access to the health services they need, no matter where they live.” Yelp, like Amazon, Apple and Citi, has made prior commitments to helping its staff receive necessary healthcare, including abortions, in light of restrictive legislation.

Dating app Bumble vows to fight

Popular dating app Bumble has also joined the bandwagon of dissent. Bumble said in a statement that the organization is “dismayed” by the leak. “At Bumble, we believe strongly in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all. We believe in equitable access and the protection of women in every stage of their reproductive journey.”

The spokesperson said the company intends to “continue to fight for the rights and protections of women all over the world” and explained that Bumble partners with various organizations working to expand access to reproductive care. For now, the company is focused primarily on supporting its staff: “The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority, and that includes covering access to abortion care.”

Ben & Jerry’s serves up advocacy

Ben & Jerry’s, which has for years been outspoken on issues ranging from racial equity and LGBTQ+ rights to climate change and campaign finance reform, was quick to share its stance on social media. The ice cream purveyor published a series of tweets on Tuesday arguing in defense of Roe v Wade. It said: “The draft SCOTUS decision would perpetuate systemic racism and classism, and is an assault on the bodily autonomy of all women. It stands in opposition to many of the values Americans share. The data is clear that it would disproportionately impact Black and brown people.”

The brand reminded consumers that the leak remains a draft decision and that no ruling has yet been made to reverse Roe. Ben & Jerry’s encouraged people to donate via the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Among other major brands, only a small smattering have put out statements concerning the draft decision. However, media organizations including Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and Elizabeth Banks’s WhoHaha have made public statements on social media denouncing efforts to reverse Roe v Wade, as have a number of ad agencies including United Talent Agency, Big Spaceship and DeVito/Verdi.

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