Tech leaders react to Roe v. Wade reversal

Technology

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Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube addresses delegates of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland May 24, 2022. 
Arnd Wiegmann | Reuters

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and departing Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg were among noteworthy tech executives speaking out publicly on Friday’s Supreme Court ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade. The ruling ends constitutional right to abortion in the U.S., which has stood since 1973.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and many otherwise politically outspoken venture capital investors have so far remained publicly silent on the ruling.

Elon Musk’s twitter account, which has 99.5 million followers currently, featured a pinned tweet from May that said, “USA birth rate has been below min sustainable levels for ~50 years.”

In September 2021, Musk declined to discuss Texas’ stringent abortion restrictions, and said he’d rather stay out of politics. However, Gov. Greg Abbott said the Tesla CEO supported his state’s “social policies” at that time. More recently, Musk said he’d consider voting for Florida governor DeSantis for president. DeSantis is moving to restrict abortions even more in his state today.

The court’s anticipated reversal of Roe v. Wade leaves states with the power to set their own abortion laws, including outright bans on all surgical and medication abortions. Twenty-six states in total are expected to severely restrict if not fully ban abortion after the ruling, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute.

Abortion bans in Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky and South Dakota went into immediate effect.

When abortion is not legal or available, people face health risks that can be fatal in some cases. For example, a 31-year-old dentist named Savita Halappanavar died of septicemia in 2012 in Ireland after she was denied an abortion during a miscarriage. A movement arose after her death, and Ireland later amended its laws to allow legal abortions.

Here’s what these tech execs said after the ruling was issued on Friday:

Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO

“I believe CEOs have a responsibility to take care of their employees—no matter what. Salesforce moves employees when they feel threatened or experience discrimination. To our Ohana—we always make sure you have the best benefits & care, & we will always have your back. Always. [heart emoji]”

Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder –

“This is a sad day. Reversing Roe v. Wade is an unjust and unacceptable setback. And it puts women’s lives at risk, especially the most disadvantaged.”

Jeff Lawson, Twilio CEO –

“It is a dark day in our nation’s history. Stripping away this basic human right disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable women across the country. Both I and Twilio support every woman’s right to choose.”

“Whether the issue is gun safety, women’s rights, or even electing officials with a majority of the votes, it’s getting harder and harder for government to reflect the will of the majority. Often times the vast majority. We need reform.

“I believe the very legitimacy of our government starting to come into question. Between a perfectly gerrymandered house, a senate ruled by filibuster-ready minority, and a Supreme Court whose moral authority is eroded by misappropriated seats… It’s time for reform.”

Sheryl Sandberg, departing Meta COO:

On a public Faceboook post:

“I grew up hearing stories from my mom about what women in our country went through before Roe. My Mom had a friend who left the country to get a safe abortion. Most women could not afford to do this; some had back-alley abortions, which led all too often to serious health complications and sometimes even death. All women knew that they could possibly face impossible choices between controlling their futures and their health and breaking the law.

“I never thought my mom’s past would become my daughters’ futures. I cannot believe that I’m going to send my three daughters to college with fewer rights than I had.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling jeopardizes the health and the lives of millions of girls and women across the country. It threatens to undo the progress women have made in the workplace and to strip women of economic power. It will make it harder for women to achieve their dreams. And it will disproportionately impact women with the fewest resources.

“This is a huge setback. For ourselves, our daughters, and every generation that follows, we must keep up the fight. Together, we must protect and expand abortion access.”

Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO –

“Today’s SCOTUS ruling puts women’s health in jeopardy, denies them their human rights, and threatens to dismantle the progress we’ve made toward gender equality in the workplace since Roe. Business leaders must speak out now and call on Congress to codify Roe into law.”

Susan Wojicki, YouTube CEO –

“As a CEO I recognize there are a spectrum of opinions on the SCOTUS ruling today. As a woman, it’s a devastating setback. I personally believe every woman should have a choice about how and when to become a mother. Reproductive rights are human rights.”

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