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Businesses may leave Texas over anti-abortion law

Greg Abbott
Posted at 10:24 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 22:25:54-04

Texas governor Greg Abbott is on defense telling CNBC, the new anti-abortion law will have no impact on the state's growth in housing tech companies.

"This is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all," he said.

Texas is a growing hub for companies – sometimes referred to as a 'tech mecca'  – it's home to industry giants like Oracle, Hewlett Packard and Tesla, bringing more than 17,000 tech firms and over 200,000 workers who chose to move from California to Texas, in part because of a lower cost of living and favorable tax laws.

But some say Texas' new, controversial abortion ban may hurt its flourishing industry.

"I think that the state of Texas should be worried because it has created and very unwelcoming environment," said Shelley Alpern with Rhia Venture.

A recent poll funded by an abortion-rights group found two-thirds of college-educated workers say the new law would discourage them from taking a job in Texas. In the long run, smaller tech businesses may be impacted too.

"We may see some of the companies that have chosen to open offices in Texas or relocate here maybe reverse that decision," said Lori-Lee Elliot, CEO of Future Sight AR.

Women-led companies in the state like Bumble and Match have promised financial support for people seeking abortions. And Salesforce is offering to relocate employees and their families out of Texas.

Elliot is concerned the negative impacts of the Texas law will have a ripple effect on smaller companies, like hers.

"It affects smaller companies like mine that need to hire," she said. "Those companies, really help bring in talent so that we have a good pipeline of talent to recruit from."

But larger companies, like Tesla, have been mute. CEO Elon Musk tweeted: "I would prefer to stay out of politics."

Gov. Abbott says the state's conservative laws – with no state income or corporate taxes – are still highly attractive to companies.

"In fact, it is accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas," he said.

Yet some estimates say the new law could cost Texas almost $15 billion annually, arguing it forces women out of the workforce to have and care for children. That includes some women who can least afford to be out of work or underemployed such as women of color, immigrants, the young and the disabled. 

For example, Black communities make up about 13% of Texas' population but 26% of the state's abortions.

Rhia Venture's CEO Erika Davies said, "To bring a blanket law that is actually going to create yet another barrier to access health care for these same communities will only exacerbate existing issues."

Davies and her company invest in start-up companies focused on women's health.

"There are a whole host of other reasons why companies need to be concerned about this, that go from liability to simple issues of health and access to health care," she said.

Most businesses have been quiet on the Texas law, but her group is calling on companies — even outside Texas — to step up.

This story was originally reported by Newsy.com.