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JPMorgan to cover U.S. staff travel costs for out-of-state abortions -memo

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By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - America's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, will cover expenses for U.S.-based employees who need to travel far from home to get a medical service, including "legal abortions," according to a staff memo the bank sent earlier this month and seen by Reuters on Friday.

The memo, dated June 1, was first reported by CNBC minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

"We're focused on the health and well-being of our employees, and want to ensure equitable access to all benefits," said a bank spokeswoman on Friday.

JPMorgan is one of a growing number of big companies, including Citigroup, Amazon.com and Tesla Inc, that rolled out policies to ensure staff have access to abortion services, in anticipation of Friday's ruling. The Walt Disney Co made a similar announcement on Friday.

By erasing abortion as a constitutional right, the ruling restores the ability of states to pass laws prohibiting it. Twenty-six states are seen as either certain or likely now to ban abortion.

Citi was the first major U.S. bank in March to disclose it would cover travel expenses for employees who go out of state for abortions following severe new restrictions in Texas and other states. A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment on Friday.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc was reviewing its policy, according to a person close to the bank who spoke in early May. It was unclear on Friday if that was still the case. A Goldman spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Deutsche Bank AG said on Friday it was updating its healthcare policy to cover any treatment not available within 100 miles (161 km) of an employee's home, including abortions.

The country's other major lenders - Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley - did not respond to requests for comment, while AIG, the country's largest insurer, declined to comment.

Such policies risk the ire of federal and state Republican lawmakers, who say the benefits are tantamount to companies taking political sides. But Citigroup and JPMorgan said paying for out of state care is in keeping with their long-established healthcare coverage policies.

"This benefit isn't intended to be a statement about a very sensitive issue," Citi's Chief Executive Jane Fraser said in response to investor questions about the policy in April.

"We've covered reproductive healthcare benefits for over 20 years, and our practice has also been to make sure our employees have the same health coverage no matter where in the U.S. they live."

JPMorgan said the new policy begins next month, and that employees can used paid time off for days spent traveling for the procedure.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall, Editing by Mark Porter, Michelle Price and Bill Berkrot)

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