Shareholders at Walmart on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a vote to uphold a pro-abortion proposal as the debate regarding terminations rages on across the United States.
The proposal, made by Clean Yield Asset Management (CYAM) on behalf of activist investor Julie Kalish, urged Walmart’s board to issue a public report detailing “any known and any potential risks and costs to the company caused by enacted or proposed state policies severely restricting reproductive rights” by Dec. 31, 2022.
The vote comes shortly after a leaked draft majority opinion indicating the Supreme Court that if it remains unchanged in its final form it would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
“Should Roe v. Wade be weakened or overturned, as is widely anticipated, Walmart employees will face challenges accessing abortion care,” the pro-abortion proposal (pdf) to Walmart shareholders read.
As of October 2021, 60 percent of Walmart’s 5,342 stores across the United States were located in states that could potentially immediately ban abortion, should Roe v. Wade be overturned, according to CYAM.
The pro-abortion proposal further argued that both employers and employees would likely bear the costs of restricted access to abortion under such a scenario, citing a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which states women who cannot access abortion are three times more likely to leave the workforce than women who were.
“If Roe vs. Wade is weakened or overturned, Arkansas is likely to outlaw abortion entirely,” the proposal reads. “Should that occur, Walmart may find it more difficult to recruit employees to Arkansas, or to the 20+ states now considered likely to outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned.”
CYAM further noted that should Walmart employees face challenges accessing abortion care, this may damage the Walmart brand and harm its “ability to meet diversity and inclusion goals” while also having negative consequences to performance.
The pro-abortion proposal could have affected roughly 800,000 female employees, according to Reuters.
However, with only 12.9 percent of shareholders supporting the proposal, it ultimately failed.
In response to the plan, Walmart said the company is a “great place to work for women” noting that approximately 49.8 percent of its newly-hired associates in the United States were women in the first half of fiscal 2022 while citing its affordable healthcare options and insurance for workers.
“We recommend that shareholders vote against this proposal because we believe the preparation of the requested report would be of little value for our shareholders, associates, and other stakeholders and, therefore, would be an unnecessary distraction and redirection of resources,” the company wrote in an opposition statement.
The vote came after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a measure that would ban abortions in the state starting at conception, although there are exceptions to this, including if the mother’s life is in danger, and if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.
Texas in 2021 enacted a law that prohibits abortions as early as six weeks.