Thursday, September 21, 2023

Uber and Lyft expand legal coverage for drivers charged under Oklahoma’s upcoming abortion law

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Uber and Lyft have both agreed to cover legal costs in the event their drivers are charged under Oklahoma’s restrictive abortion law, according to a report by CNBC† Although the bill has not yet been signed, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt is expected to pass it within days.

On Friday, Oklahoma’s House passed the Heartbeat Act (SB 1503), a law that bans abortions around six weeks of pregnancy — much earlier than many women realize they are pregnant — and now awaits Governor Stitt’s signature. As a similar anti-abortion law recently passed in Texas, the Oklahoma bill also gives individuals the right to sue anyone who “aids or incites to perform or incite an abortion.” This includes the clinic performing the procedure as well as the person taking the woman to the medical building.

Lyft and Uber both said they would cover drivers’ legal fees after Texas passed its anti-abortion law in September, and now they’re doing the same for drivers in Oklahoma. Shortly after the bill was passed by the Oklahoma legislature, Lyft CEO Logan Green said, announced on Twitter that the company will “cover 100 percent of legal costs” for drivers charged under the forthcoming law.

“Women’s access to health care is under attack again, this time in Oklahoma,” Green said in a tweet. “Lyft drivers are once again in the middle, just to get people where they need to go. We believe that transportation should not be a barrier to access to healthcare and it is our duty to support both our driver and driver communities.”

Green also said the company is “working with partners of health care providers to establish a safe state program” that will cover travel costs for riders seeking out-of-state abortion care. In addition, Lyft says it will cover travel costs for insured U.S.-based Lyft drivers who must travel more than 100 miles to an abortion clinic.

While it has not yet been announced on Uber’s public channels, the company has confirmed to CNBC that it plans to adopt a similar policy. “As in TX, we plan to cover all legal costs for any driver charged under this law while driving,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC. It’s unclear whether Uber also plans to cover travel costs for drivers or passengers traveling for an abortion. The edge contacted Uber with a request for comment, but didn’t hear back immediately.

Earlier this month, Yelp announced it would cover travel costs if employees (or their spouses) have to leave the state for an abortion procedure. Salesforce also offered to help employees relocate if they worry about access to abortion in their state, while the Texas-based Bumble and Match Group has set up an emergency fund for women affected by Texas’ anti-abortion law.

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