Amazon will reimburse US employees who travel for abortions

Amazon, the United States' second largest private employer, informed workers that it will reimburse them if they have to travel more than 100 miles from home for medical treatments -- including abortions.

Reuters reports that the company made the announcement via email on Monday and informed employees it will reimburse up to $4,000 in travel expenses for reproductive health and other non-life threatening treatments for cardiology, cellular gene therapies and substance-abuse disorder services. The company also provides reimbursements up to $10,000 for travel expenses if an office or warehouse worker needs treatment for life-threatening issues.

Other large U.S. employers such as Citigroup and Yelp offer similar benefits to employees. Those benefits increasingly have become top-of-mind as Republican run states across the country - including Texas, Oklahoma and Florida - have passed highly restrictive new anti-abortion laws.

The wire service notes that Amazon's move "shows how companies are eager to retain and attract talent in locations that remain important to their operations despite legal changes impacting employees' health.

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"Amazon's new benefit, effective to Jan. 1 retroactively, applies if an operation is not available within 100 miles (161 km) of an employee's home and virtual care is not possible," Reuters reports the company's message said. "It is open to U.S. employees or covered dependents enrolled in Premera or Aetna health plans."

But news of that new benefit came on the same day that the company stopped offering paid time off for U.S. employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Instead, they now can take five days of excused unpaid leave.