Business Leaders React to Draft Opinion on Roe v. Wade

Few companies have commented publicly on the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

At Lyft Inc., executives have had multiple conversations internally about how to respond, said John Zimmer, company co-founder and president.

The ride-hailing company has a history of enacting policies in response to anti-abortion legislation. When Texas implemented a law last September that banned abortions after six weeks and allowed private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who aided an abortion, the San Francisco-based company said it would pay the legal costs of any drivers who were sued for ferrying women to abortion clinics. The company made a similar offer in April after Oklahoma’s Legislature passed an abortion bill that also relied on private citizens for enforcement.

Mr. Zimmer reiterated the company’s commitment to helping women get abortions if needed. “We’ve made our perspective on this quite clear,” Mr. Zimmer said in an interview Tuesday. “So we will continue to look for ways to make a difference, to speak out and to, most importantly, take action.”

The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, indicated the court may be preparing to overturn the 1973 precedent that established a constitutional right to an abortion. It was published late Monday by Politico, and on Tuesday Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that the draft was authentic. But he said it was not necessarily the final resolution in the case.

“I was shocked to wake up to the news this morning,” Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp., wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. “A reversal of Roe v. Wade would set us back 50 years and disproportionately impact the most vulnerable women in society. I support a woman’s right to make their own decisions about their health care.”

Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also weighed in, writing in a post on Facebook: “This is a scary day for women all across our country. If the leaked draft opinion becomes the law of the land, one of our most fundamental rights will be taken away. Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother. Few things are more important to women’s health and equality.”

Executives are navigating difficult terrain when it comes to deciding whether to speak out on social issues. At many companies, CEOs are under pressure from employees to take stands on political and social issues. At the same time, the stakes of doing so are higher after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that would terminate a special tax district that has allowed Walt Disney Co. to self-govern the land on which its Orlando-area theme parks sit.

Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, cited Disney’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which was signed into law in March and which bars classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for schoolchildren through grade three.

A number of prominent business groups held off issuing any kind of public statement on the leaked ruling. The Business Roundtable, a trade group representing U.S. business interests in Washington, D.C., doesn’t have a position on the issue, according to a person familiar with the matter.