Search Shops Align For Abortion Rights, Legal Ramifications Unclear

Search and web development companies have formed a group to support women who want to have an abortion. The announcement was made Monday.

The group formed Agencies for Reproductive Rights (ARR) during the weekend following the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, which transfers the right to abortion from federal to state governments.

The more than 30 agencies that joined the group pledge to support a woman's right to choose, but there are no plans to form a non-profit that will raise money to support the cause.

Each agency -- including Altura Interactive, Beyond SEO, Locatoin3, Local SEO Guide, iPull Rank and many others -- has agreed to independently cover travel expenses for women who are seeking an abortion and require help traveling to the nearest state where legal and safe care is available.

Andrew Shotland, founder of Local SEO Guide, said “each agency will determine its own policy.”

His company is working on the details such as how to apply for aid, how to determine a fair and reasonable cost, the number of women the company will help, and a cap on the cost.

“We put this together quickly and wanted to get the ball rolling before we had all the details ironed out,” he wrote in an email to Search & Performance Marketing Daily.

Mic King, founder of the agency iPullRank, tweeted while on vacation. He wrote that “if you work at @iPullRankAgency and live in a state that doesn't support a woman's right, whatever plane, train or automobile you need to take is on us.”

The group is not restricted to agencies in the United States. Search Labs, for example, is a digital marketing SEO consultant in Melbourne, Australia.

It’s free to join the group. The company only needs to agree to cover the travel costs for any employee who needs to go out of state for an abortion.

It may not seem as easy to support employees, according to legal experts. There could be consequences for aiding and abetting. A growing number of large U.S. companies have said they will cover travel costs for employees--companies like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and others, but companies will need to navigate a variety of state laws that are likely to draw fire.

Reuters reports that Texas state lawmakers have already threatened Citigroup, and Lyft, which had announced travel reimbursement policies, with legal repercussions. 

Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois and expert on healthcare law, told Reuters that it "may only be a matter of time before companies face lawsuits from states or anti-abortion campaigners claiming that abortion-related payments violate state bans on facilitating or aiding and abetting abortions."

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