First Airline Makes A Statement After Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

Airlines scrupulously avoided speaking out on abortion after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked – despite taking positions on issues like voting reform, affirmative action, and gun control.

However now that the Court’s decision has been published, Alaska Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to put out a statement. While a bit mealy mouthed, it highlights the airline’s willingness to cover travel costs to get an abortion.

[W]e will continue, just as we always have, to provide employees with extensive benefits to support your health and well-being, no matter where you live. This includes reimbursing travel for certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live.

It’s odd for the airline to put out this supposedly employee-focused communication in their public newsroom (so it’s meant for media consumption). And odd for the airline’s focus to be on their employees.

  • Abortion rights are not under threat in the states where Alaska Airlines operates hubs. Alaska’s constitution has been explicitly read to protect abortion, and it will remain legal in Washington State and California.

  • Airline employees can travel more easily than most if necessary.

By putting this out as a public statement they’re signaling publicly in response to the news. But they don’t actually take a clear position on the decision, because their customers as well as employees are divided on the issue.

Restrictions on abortion are complicated because the harder it becomes to obtain an abortion the more costly and time-consuming. A restriction at 15 weeks (at issue in Dobbs) will push some abortions out later, the opposite of what pro-choice advocates would want.

Personally I find abortion to be a difficult issue. Because of my own uncertainty I’m reluctant to codify one answer in law. Legally-speaking the opinion in Roe vs. Wade never seemed strong. Stronger, it seems, would be a robust 9th amendment jurisprudence (which only Justice Gorsuch seems remotely interested in).

Indeed, Justice Alito writes as justification for overturning Roe.

the Constitution makes no mention of abortion.

But the Constitution’s 9th amendment literally reads “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

While unsatisfying to activists, the formulation that seems to match where most people are remains ‘safe, legal and rare.’ Every company is different but given the passion on both sides, and that the passionate sides diverge from where most people are, this seems like an issue most companies will try their best to avoid (they have employees and customers on both sides and the country is generally divided, far from the extremes of activists on both sides) and will stumble on when forced to address.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is Alaska Airlines also going to foot the bill for employees or dependents who want to travel to more prestigious hospitals for treatment? My father in law had to foot the bill for his own travel to go to Mayo and MD Anderson when he was battling pancreatic cancer. I mean, if this is about supporting employees…seems like a pretty slippery slope.

  2. Plain and simple…..sheer idiocy for them or any business to get involved in this!!

  3. Alaska Airlines flies in/out of Atlanta, GA. GA law has a ban of abortion services starting at 6 weeks, which will be effective with the ruling SCOTUS just announced. They fly many places in addition to CA, Alaska & Washington, where there are extreme bans in place. I support their position, which allows support for their employees to make their own health care decisions.

  4. @vbscript2 As usual, the gun nuts left out the first part of the sentence of the 2nd Amendment:
    `A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,…’
    Joe Schmo with an AR-15 is not a well regulated militia and is not necessary to the security of a free state.
    And Gary’s ‘clickbait to useful info’ ratio is increasing weekly….

  5. Typical sexism…I would like a free plane ticket to get blobs of flesh removed from inside me, but, because I don’t have a uterus…

  6. @ vbscript2 says:

    “If you wish anyone to think you intelligent, please dispense with ever making that absurd argument again”

    Look in the mirror, dude. Your own argument directed at @ Kalboz is facile and thereby intellectually superficial.

    “The Constitution clearly says, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Sure, it does, but how about providing the whole clause rather than selectively quoting the bit that you like. The bearing of arms is stated within the context of a well-regulated militia and as necessary to the security of a free state.

    Now, there is an argument that you need to have those arms in the first place to be armed in a well-regulated militia (as necessary to the security of a free state), but that isn’t what you are saying, is it? You weren’t smart enough to make that distinction.

    Citing your favourite bits out of context to bolster your personal opinion is easily called out as a weak argument.

    Put another way, if the amendment had been written as you quoted (simply as a right to bear arms), then sure, define what the phrase meant linguistically when it was written, work out how that applies to the modern world, and, happy days, off you go to the local gun shop to buy your kid his / her 18th birthday gift of a semi-automatic weapon and 1,000s of rounds of ammo capable of shooting up dozens of kids in a school – BUT it wasn’t written so. The right to bear arms is framed within a context that you now need to interpret.

    Pretending that such context is absent is absolutely absurd.

    “This is not limited to a particular type of arms any more than the First Amendment is limited to a particular method of communication.”

    More correctly and undeniably, the type of arms is not specifically defined.

    Once again you ignore context. What type of arms would have been used in a well-regulated militia in 1791, apparently, single-shot rifles, swords, muskets and cannons.

    Be careful not to fall into the trap of hypocrisy: you could argue linguistically “bearing arms” in historical context (what the words meant in 1791) infers an individual right to bear arms, so you want that phrase to have a gravitas bestowed by its historical meaning because it suits your personal position, but then you want to reject the historical meaning of “arms” because it doesn’t suit your personal position. Ouch!

    In any case, the concept of “limited” is your personal projection as we are about to find out.

    “Saying that AR-15s weren’t around when the 2nd Amendment was passed, so it does not apply to them is an equivalent argument as saying that electronic printing presses and the Internet were not around at the time of the passing of the 1st Amendment, so it doesn’t apply to them.”

    Your comparison is poorly chosen. In the Second you have to decide the definition of the term “arms”. In the First there is no such impediment to interpretation regarding the definition of the medium of speech.

    But, and, tragically, for your argument, the First has been subject to all sorts of post hoc legal interpretations / limitations. One example (picking the fun one to lighten the mood) is the demarcation between “free speech’ and “obscene speech”, which has shifted historically, in part reflecting “community standards” as pornography has gained social acceptance.

    “It’s a plainly absurd and obviously disingenuous argument that no one actually believes. Please stop using it if you wish anyone to take your opinion seriously.”

    Your own argument is shot to pieces, buddy. Superficial statements with febrile logical tenure are easily demolished.

    Put simply, the constitution and the amendments are continually being legally reinterpreted as history advances. Presumed “limitations” (or lack thereof) are constantly under legal challenge in order for society and government to progress, something about abolition of slavery (you had to wait until the 13th for that), rights to vote, etc., etc.

    “Comparing that to the abortion decision is a silly false equivalence. There is very plainly a Constitutional right for the people to keep and bear arms (or, more specifically, a Constitutional limitation on the government barring it from preventing the people from doing so.) There is no such provision regarding abortion, nor any broader concept that would include it.”

    You were offended by the concept that the constitution does not mention AR-15s. But it is a fact. It (the Second) does not.

    You are relying on your personal interpretation of the term “arms” (with selective citation and avoidance of context) and claiming an unlimited definition supported by an unsubstantiated example of presumed equivalence (whereas here are many examples of the constitution being legally “reinterpreted” with respect to limiting definitions, including the acceptance of pornography!).

    Now whether the rusted-on conservatives like it or not, history progresses. There were slaves and women denied the right to vote when the constitution was first framed, etc., etc. As you point out, there weren’t even any Mormons. Or, for that matter, the first recognised dinosaur fossil hadn’t been identified for another 50 years (tooth of the Iguanodon), the Origin of the Species hadn’t been written for another 100 years, let alone the chemical structure of DNA discovered for another 170 years.

    Whilst even traditionally Catholic counties like Ireland (ironically enabled per 36th constitutional amendment 2018 passing the power to parliament) and Colombia (ironically enabled by the Constitutional Court 2006 upheld 2020), the USA is regressing into its past.

    Ironically, interpretation of the US constitution and its amendments can ultimately fall to the Supreme Court bench. And, as @JohnB has referenced, that outcome (for abortion rights), apparently determined along political party lines, could easily be manipulated by assigning a new crew of judges.

    Meanwhile, other western democratic nations have moved on – effective gun control, abortion, assisted dying, etc. etc.

    Even t*RUMP appears to be keeping his head down, having created a serious problem for the Republicans by stacking the Supreme Court bench with uber right conservatives.

    Surely the constitution was intended to unite peoples, not be used as an instrument of their division? What is the purpose here?

    Meanwhile, the post are laden with unfortunate hypocrisy (I want freedom, but only when it applies to me!).

  7. Abortion is murder. It’s not about “her body”, there is another body inside her.

    Glad this is finally done with.
    We need a national ban on baby killing.

  8. @LK

    Murder is not legal there is nothing on the constitution that says it’s ok to kill babies.

    Guns are protected.

    Abortion is black genocide and people who support abortion are worse than the Nazis.

  9. @platy

    We have the law and Constitution on our side. You just have blind ignorance and rage.

    You don’t get to change the rules because you lost.

    Dredd Scott was once settled law. It’s nice that we a progressive enough to end baby killing at least partially.

  10. @platy

    “We have the law and Constitution on our side.”

    Actually, what you have at this time is a bench of Supreme Court judges stacked with uber-conservatives on your side exploiting the uncertainty in language of a constitution and amendments written 230 years ago at a time in history when there was slavery and no right to vote for women and muskets were armaments not high powered semi automatic weapons being used by Americans for mass murder on an almost daily basis.

    “You just have blind ignorance and rage.”

    I would suggest that of the two of us, you are the one fixated with emotion and hysteria. Tell me that you gave a second thought for the one million Americans who have died of COVID, or the 100,000s of innocent civilians who died in the (illegal) second invasion of Iraq, or even the victims of mass murder from your national obsession with gun ownership. In other words, convince me that you aren’t a simpering hypocrite?

    “You don’t get to change the rules because you lost.”

    I don’t get to change any rules. I already live in a country with abortion rights, assisted dying rights, stem cell research, effective gun control ,etc.

    For your information we don’t go about shooting each other up, the actual abortion rates are extremely low (and declining at 5% per year) and in the vast majority of cases apply when the foetus is most certainly part of the woman’s body (less than 1.5cm), so your references to baby killing are emotional hysteria.

    And since you are attached to “rules”, rules change, buddy, even the constitution (it took 75 years before slavery was addressed trough the 13th amendment). And then the rules themselves are subject to legal interpretation.

    Just how far back in history do you want to drag your country?

    The world is moving on. But not the USA thanks to some retrograde conservatives.

  11. LOL at all these liberal assholes absolutely losing their minds!!! This alone is worth the ruling.

  12. Platy you and your liberal ilk are the ones dragging us back into the dark ages. We now have numerous, free contraception including a morning after pill. There is rarely a legitimate reason to even have an abortion. You can say what you want about the composition of the Supreme Court. Those justices were appointed by the President who was democratically elected. Get over yourself and stop with the tiresome progressive talking points.

  13. “Sahe” says:” Such an ignorant comment as said by a white man of privilege. I applaud anyone who takes sides more than one “sitting on the fence” like you.”

    You are the ignorant one here. You don’t know mine or anyone else’s race or gender who is posting here. It is of the upmost foolishness of any company to choose sides or issue statements on an issue such as abortion. With the country split down the middle you will alienate one side or the other no matter which position you take. Why would a CEO wish to do that. I live in Anchorage Alaska and even there we have other choices of who to fly.

  14. @CMorgan

    “dragging us back into the dark ages.”

    Right, fella, you are the ones going backwards, peeling back rights won over the years. Just how far back into your history to you want to regress? What’s next – limit use of contraception? Remove women’s right to vote? Men being able to consort with their partners / wives without consent? Remove provisions for equal pay? Just how rusted-on old-fashioned conservative are you? Just remember it was the right wing who stood against proven health policy in controlling COVID and you all paid the price for that – over one million dead. It’s hard to imagine a more neanderthal and pachycephalan response (oh except for the regressive stupidity about gun control and abortion, etc).

    Whatever – but you are clearly afraid of change. Afraid of progress. Selfishly disinterested in the rights of others. Hiding in your cave clutching your gun in fear.

    MAGBA – Make America Great Britain again!

    ” There is rarely a legitimate reason to even have an abortion”

    “Legitimate” depends upon the jurisdiction in which you live – your personal statement makes it neither legitimate or illegitimate. That’s the point.

    Here in Australia (a more civilised society that the US in so many ways) the abortion rate is extremely low, so in one sense you are correct, the incidence of women deciding in favour of abortion is rare. But, that in itself does not justify removing their access to abortion. You should self educate on the reasons why women have abortions, a decision not undertaken lightly and typically due to compelling reasons such as rape, poverty, domestic violence.

    No doubt you are seeking to impose your archaic world view on half of your country’s population with very little direct experience or consideration of the issues at hand. Dumb jerk-off stuff.

    “You can say what you want about the composition of the Supreme Court. Those justices were appointed by the President who was democratically elected.”

    And that, my dumb backward buddy, is exactly what I am saying. Those herein make declarations about the sanctity of the constitution forgetting that its content is so easily politically manipulated. There is no absolute and unambiguous legal imperative. Is that too complex a concept for your tiny mind to process?

    “Get over yourself and stop with the tiresome progressive talking points.”

    Grow up, mate. If you’re not smart enough or competent to engage in a logical and reasoned argument go back to your play pen and take comfort in the dumbed down brainwashing of your right wing media. A classic dumb right wing American easily manipulated and unable to think for themselves. Here in Australia, we laugh at people like you over a beer (thankfully recognising that you are in the minority on this issue).

    “It is of the upmost foolishness of any company to choose sides or issue statements on an issue such as abortion’

    Once again you exhibit your abject stupidity. The company is restating its HEALTH CARE commitment to its employees. Remember, that absent a universal health care system in the USA (like a more civilised country such as the UK or Australia) it befalls upon the employer to fund private health insurance.

    ” You don’t know mine or anyone else’s race or gender who is posting here”

    Pretty sure that @Sage was referring to Gary Leff in the post quoted. In which case I think we can safely conclude the race and gender, no?! Mate you have become so hysterical that you can’t even comprehend a simple post. Like I said, a typical (very) dumb right wing American. Thanks for the laughs buddy. Now go back to your rancid cave and polish your guns and let the grown ups fight it out with logical debate.

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