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May 20, 2022 | In The News

Facebook parent Meta reiterates ban on abortion discussion at work as Supreme Court mulls Roe

An executive at Facebook’s parent company Meta told employees that they cannot discuss abortion on Workplace, an internal version of Facebook, due to “an increased risk” that such talk would make the company seem like a “hostile work environment.”

Meta has reportedly prohibited employees from discussing “opinions or debates about abortion being right or wrong, availability or rights of abortion, and political, religious, and humanitarian views on the topic” since 2019, according to the company’s internal “Respectful Communication Policy,” The Verge reported. Yet an executive reiterated the policy at an all-hands meeting with employees Thursday.

Meta’s vice president of human resources, Janelle Gale, told employees that abortion was “the most divisive and reported topic” on Workplace, meaning that staff often flagged abortion comments as hurtful or discriminatory. “Even if people are respectful, and they’re attempting to be respectful about their view of abortion, it can still leave people feeling like they’re being targeted based on their gender or religion,” Gale added, according to a recording of her comments The Verge obtained.

“It’s the one unique topic that kind of trips that line on a protected class pretty much in every instance,” she said.

Meta did not respond to FOX Business’ request for comment by press time.

Some employees have reportedly called on management to scrap the policy after Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in that case – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – was genuine, but the draft dates back to February, and it does not represent the current or final opinion of the Court.

Employees argued that the ban clashes with Meta’s policy of allowing employees to talk “respectfully” about issues such as Black Lives Matter, immigration, and transgender debates.

Meta reportedly has a rather left-leaning internal culture. Employees sent 91.68% of their federal political donations to Democrats in 2020, $2.4 million compared to the $218,576 workers at the company sent to Republicans. 

Dozens of Facebook employees called out in 2018 what Brian Amerige, then a senior engineer at the company, called a “political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views,” enforcing “left-leaning ideology.”

After the Supreme Court leak, Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called abortion “one of our most fundamental rights” in a Facebook post.

“Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother,” she wrote. “Few things are more important to women’s health and equality.”

Naomi Gleit, one of Meta’s most senior executives, however, reiterated the ban on abortion discussion in an internal post the day after Sandberg’s comments. “At work, there are many sensitivities around this topic, which makes it difficult to discuss on Workplace,” Gleit wrote. She insisted that employees could discuss abortion at work “with a trusted colleague in a private setting” and in a “listening session with a group of up to 5 like-minded people to show solidarity,” and encouraged employees to use Facebook and Instagram to share their personal views.

Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Tesla have said they would cover some expenses for pregnant employees who need to travel to obtain an abortion.

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., warned that the companies’ abortion decisions are “very polarizing to the American people” and may negatively impact those firms’ bottom lines.

While many polls suggest Americans support Roe, in-depth polling reveals a more complicated picture. When asked about their opinion on abortion during specific periods of pregnancy and other situations, 71% of Americans say they support restricting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy (22%), or in other limited circumstances such as rape and incest (28%), to save the life of the mother (9%) or not at all (12%). Only 17% of Americans said abortion should be available during an entire pregnancy and 12% said it should be restricted to the first six months.