A group of Department of Justice (DOJ) employees sent a letter to the Biden administration Wednesday with a call for workers to be granted paid leave at taxpayer expense if they travel out-of-state for an abortion.
Allocating leave to employees who travel to obtain an abortion is akin to the time off federal employees received to obtain coronavirus vaccinations, the group argued, and comes in the wake of multiple states passing pro-life legislation.
The DOJ Gender Equity Network (DOJ GEN) missive to government personnel and management agencies outlined it is “deeply concerned about the ability of hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families to access reproductive healthcare because of restrictive state laws that are already, or may soon be, in effect in their states.”
The letter follows a leaked draft Supreme Court majority opinion made public earlier this month showing the court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, sparking demonstrations across the country.
The DOJ GEN argument continues that states such as Texas and Mississippi, where it is already extremely difficult to obtain an abortion, are an example of what might lie ahead for government employees.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already said “of course” private companies should provide travel expenses for their employees to receive an abortion in a state where it is legal if Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Now the call is for the government itself to follow suit.
“As an initial step, we ask that the Administration swiftly consider requiring federal agencies to grant administrative leave to cover the time it takes an employee, or an employee’s family member, to travel to another state to obtain reproductive healthcare services not available in their own state due to restrictive laws,” the letter says.
Given that the federal government is the nation’s largest employer, granting leave “would send a powerful message to America — and in particular, American employers,” said Stacey Young, the president of the DOJ GEN, according to the New York Times.
Some 150,000 federal employees in Texas and Mississippi currently have little access to abortion, and an additional 227,000 federal employees in 11 other states could immediately lose access to the procedure if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, the group said.
Already, several large companies led by Tesla cover some expenses for employees who must travel to receive certain medical procedures that are prohibited by state law, including abortion, as Breitbart News reported.
Amazon has also told its staff it will reimburse up to $4,000 in travel expenses every year for medical treatments, including abortions.
The government is yet to respond to the letter or its demands.