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Small businesses grapple with how to help employees after Roe v. Wade reversal

Some national companies are offering travel or relocation costs for employees in need of abortion care. But for small businesses, that's not always an option.

INDIANAPOLIS — State lawmakers start their special session on July 25 where they are expected to pass tighter abortion restrictions. Several other states plan to pass similar abortion bans.  

Also, some national companies have already announced they’ll offer travel or relocation costs for employees in need of abortion care. 

But for small businesses, that's not always an option.

“It’s scary to talk about, but it’s definitely things small business owners need to be considering,” said Sarah St. Aubin.

St. Aubin co-owns Futuro, a small pizza shop in downtown Indianapolis, with her husband. She said when the news of Roe v. Wade being overturned came out, her team was devastated.  

“The whole entire staff was crushed because it means a lot to their wives or their partners or our female staff. Everybody knows a female and it impacts them greatly,” St. Aubin said. 

RELATED: Courts asked to reinstate blocked Indiana anti-abortion laws

It was also personal for St. Aubin. At 21, she lost her baby at 19 weeks, but decided not to terminate her pregnancy.  

“My situation is very unique, of course, because my child would have not made it past birth, but it was my choice to do that. I can’t imagine making a woman feel those things that I felt every day,” St. Aubin said.  

It’s why she made a post on Facebook last week addressing the issue as a business owner, mother and Hoosier.

@govholcomb As a female-owned business, heavy taxpayers... And a mother.... I urge you to understand how far SCOTUS will take this... I'm a business owner.... I have almost 50% of my team that are females.. All people that work for me have females in their life that they love... Respect... And some are raising little women at home.... The dangers of back alley abortions should be a thing of the past... Safe healthcare for women is vital .....your decisions that you will carry in your term will impact over 50 percent of voters ..... Educating folks about sex, contraceptives and accessing healthcare has made the need for abortions much less than in the 90s when I was growing up in Indiana. Abortion rates continue to drop...people need more programs to prevent pregnancy and have the right to those programs.... You personally are religious....and it's your right to feel the way you do...but please consider others and how dangerous this can be for women and families. I sent a couple of our staff to the circle to show support....the environment was sullen in the shop and I want you to please listen to the people who feed the city everyday... I'm afraid of more brain drain in Indiana....I'm afraid of companies not giving us a shot in the future...Frankly, I'm afraid...please do not do this to Indiana. We are fed up with being afraid in the Hoosier state. Please protect us. I invite you to a table in my restaurant... We need to talk. A Pro-Choice Mother....who had access to healthcare so I decide when my family was ready for children. And for those who don't want to hear this......I'm not sorry. Never will be. Sarah and the entire staff at Futuro.

Posted by Futuro on Saturday, June 25, 2022

She said it adds new challenges for small businesses, especially those who don’t have as many resources.  

“We would have to continue to become more than just food servers. We would have to become mental health experts and there is already a crisis happening in our nation for that. I am not equipped to do that,” she said.  

She’s not alone. Other local businesses have weighed in on the issue, including Milktooth, Silver in the City and King Dough.  

As a woman owned and women led business we are deeply disappointed in the decisions made by SCOTUS. We believe everyone...

Posted by King Dough Indy on Saturday, June 25, 2022

With the decision now up to state lawmakers, St. Aubin is preparing for the “what if,” knowing her employees will always come first.  

“I will do anything I can to support my staff in any decision that they make, anything that they need if this becomes illegal in our state,” she said.  

RELATED: Hundreds of health care professionals rally in support of abortion rights in Indiana

She also invites Gov. Eric Holcomb to sit at her table and have a conversation about the potential impact of an abortion ban.  

“I love this town. I’m here for a reason and so are the rest of my friends who are business owners and feel the same way I do. We are not here to make demands on people. We just want safe healthcare for everybody to have access to in Indiana,” she said.  

Most big companies across Indiana have not made an announcement on plans to offer resources for workers if Indiana passes an abortion ban. 

However, Salesforce says it will continue covering travel and relocation costs for employees. That includes people at the regional headquarters in downtown Indianapolis. Latest numbers show Salesforce employs roughly 2,300 people in the city. 

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