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The Head-Spinning Politics of the “Purge” Franchise – POLITICO

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In case you hadn’t heard, “the American dream is dead.” This is, I think, due to an “epidemic of crime.” Or maybe “bad hombres” who insisted they be subjected to “no more bullshit.”

Who said these things? Donald Trump, of course (or at least, in some cases, his bootleg merchandisers). But also a menagerie of forgettable stock characters from the “Purge” horror-thriller cinematic universe. If the exact details are fuzzy, forgive me. In a span of 24 hours over the July Fourth weekend, I watched all five “Purge” films — including “The Forever Purge,” which just opened in theaters — in an attempt to understand why this aggressively off-putting, grotesque franchise has maintained its stranglehold on the American imagination for nearly a decade now.

To do what these films do not, and indulge in a little bit of understatement, it was a disorienting experience.

The “Purge” universe is based on a simple and nihilistic premise: In a dystopian near-future, a democratically-elected American theocracy legalizes any and all crime — including murder — for 12 hours each year, with the starting bell a 7:00 p.m. siren blast on March 21 that announces anarchy until the following morning. The stated purpose is to psychologically “purify” a society wracked by unemployment and rampant crime, allowing Americans to live peacefully among each other for the remainder of the year.

In (this fictional) reality, however, it’s all just a ruse by bloodthirsty oligarchs to sell guns and insurance while culling the ranks of those who can’t afford to hunker down for the night in gilded panic rooms. One part hardcore social Darwinism, one part “Escape From New York” and a sprinkle of “The Handmaid’s Tale” have combined to the tune of nearly $500 million at the worldwide box office.

That’s just a taste of the hazily sketched political philosophy the “Purge” films lay out. Regardless of their thematic ambiguity, there’s an obvious hook: They serve as opportunities for the viewer to “purge” in their own mind over the course of 90-110 minutes, imagining how they might survive in a world of unbidden violence—or what they might be tempted to do if given the chance to act with impunity. The viewer can damn the Purge’s avaricious creators while enjoying the catharsis-by-proxy of the violence they unleash. Even better, the masters of this particular universe are drawn vaguely enough that viewers of all political stripes can imagine them as the foes of their choosing: religious autocrats, a shadowy global cabal of far-right fever dreams, or anything in between.

The political details of the world conjured by franchise creator and screenwriter James DeMonaco—scattershot and contradictory as they are—reveal the driving impulses of the populist id that drives today’s politics. Now nearly a decade after its launch, one could do worse than squinting at the “Purge” franchise to glean an impressionistic, if woefully incomplete, picture of American social erosion.

***

In “The Purge,” the franchise’s 2013 maiden voyage, simplicity is a virtue. Produced on a relatively shoestring budget of $3 million, the film is effectively an old-school haunted house picture focusing on one family’s efforts to make it through Purge Night at home. The civic trappings of the franchise are almost irrelevant here, replaced by a series of straightforward moral quandaries: What do we owe our neighbors? How much risk would you take on to protect them? How far are you willing to go to protect your own family?

Those are the questions the film’s protagonist, a McMansion-dwelling but economically insecure salesman played by Ethan Hawke, faces as he glowers his way through what recalls a lengthy, uber-violent, not-very-sophisticated episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The demons at Hawke’s heavily-fortified door—he happens to peddle security systems meant to keep those who can afford them safe from the Purge—are a roving gang of “American Psycho”-style preppies, who appeal to class solidarity by imploring Hawke to release a homeless man taken in by his compassionate offspring. With its sadistic elite antagonists, the film establishes the series’ crude populism, and although it doesn’t amount to much of a social critique, the final product is probably the most satisfying in the series by virtue of its small-scale, human focus.

In its 2014 sequel, “The Purge: Anarchy,” the camera zooms way out. We’re introduced to the wider sociopolitical context of the Purge, which has created a country where unemployment is below 5 percent and “crime is virtually non-existent, while every year fewer and fewer people live below the poverty line,” as the film’s opening title card helpfully explains. Eventually, via painstaking verbal exposition, the viewer learns that the ruling party (the perfectly vaguely named “New Founding Fathers of America”) is now simply deploying death squads to indiscriminately murder the poor, who apparently have not done an efficient enough job of it themselves come Purge time.

The sequel does some things effectively. By turning its focus to the people who can’t afford to enter Ethan Hawke’s bunker, it confronts the viewer more directly with the pitch-black implications of the series’ premise, up to and including a disturbing scene of threatened sexual violence. But in what becomes a recurring theme for the franchise, that strength is also the film’s weakness. Bogged down by dull action, bizarre pacing and the ham-fisted introduction of a Black resistance group for whom the term “caricature” would be generous, “The Purge: Anarchy” introduces a raft of provocative, upsetting ideas and proceeds to do less than the bare minimum with them.

That trend largely continues in the series’ third installment, “The Purge: Election Year.” As one might surmise from the title, the film tackles electoral politics head-on. Its plot follows an idealistic, crusading politician who seeks the presidency on a single-issue platform of abolishing the Purge. Although it’s cinematically more successful than its predecessor—benefiting from tighter action sequences as DeMonaco is clearly more comfortable with the larger budget—it still lacks real thematic punch or focus. Its protagonist, portrayed by “Lost” star Elizabeth Mitchell, invokes Lincoln in a debate speech against her opponent; one of the film’s scrappy rebels faux-cynically proclaims “She’s full of it too, nothing will actually change.”

By the time the film was released in mid-2016, critics were salivating for parallels between its bleak universe and the Manichean, id political landscape that year’s real-world election had shaped. They were hard to come by. Ironically, perhaps more than any other film in the franchise, “Election Year” dodges the explicitly topical in favor of the closest thing to a throughline that exists between the five films: its vague, stick-it-to-‘em populism. When its captured antagonist implores the film’s heroes to murder him in cold blood, he repeats a common refrain from “Anarchy,” smugly reassuring them that it’s “their right as an American.” Who across the political spectrum wouldn’t like to stick it to their entitled opponents? (Here, it’s ultimately a moral victory, although action cult hero Frank Grillo does get in a solid below-the-belt shot and Arnold-style one-liner.)

The next entry, the 2018 prequel “The First Purge,” benefits from a shakeup. In its origin story of both the Purge itself and the dystopia that birthed it, we see glimpses of the political dynamics DeMonaco surmises could drive Americans to such depravity—a housing crisis, an epidemic of opioid use, widespread and uncontrollable protests. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a “You Are Here” sticker (and in case the setting wasn’t immediate enough for you, there’s a brief cameo from CNN’s Van Jones interviewing the Purge’s in-universe creator).

Despite its head-on embrace of the imagined political conditions under which such an event could take place, “The First Purge” is the most entertaining film in the series by virtue of a street-level narrative focus that recalls the series’ origins. It also benefits from easily the most charismatic “Purge” lead in Y’lan Noel (of HBO’s “Insecure”), a laconic Staten Island drug kingpin who intends to lay low as the new government uses his borough as the Purge’s experimental testing ground.

Of course, he does not succeed, and the film follows him and a largely Black cast of Staten Islanders as they attempt to escape the Purge night’s violence. Of all the “Purge” films, “The First Purge” most directly acknowledges the ugly reality that many Americans would no doubt use such an opportunity to vent their racial animus in horrific and violent ways. An indelible, disturbing image of Noel choking the life from a white stormtrooper in a Sambo mask hits far harder than similar agitprop from across the series. The filmmakers clearly grasp, for the first time, that without nailing the “humanity” part of “inhumanity,” depicting it is ultimately just an exercise in morbid juvenilia.

Which brings us to “The Forever Purge.” Like its predecessors, the newest “Purge” flick gleefully prods at raw wounds in the American psyche, depicting societal tensions as the basis for grisly violence. And it does so while providing an allegory more explicit than any film in the series thus far. In a town on the northern side of the U.S.-Mexico border, racist paramilitary groups keep the annual violence going past its legally-sanctioned window in an attempt to rid American society of non-whites. A Hallmark-handsome family of white ranchers with a pregnant matriarch and their Mexican migrant colleagues then must make a treacherous border crossing to Mexico to escape the violence, in a predictable inversion of the typical North American refugee narrative.

While its politics are stated more clearly than any other film in the series, the allegory isn’t nearly clever enough to overcome the same two-dimensional characters and formulaic action that have historically depressed the franchise’s Rotten Tomatoes score. The audience is now apparently catching up to the critics, with the film opening to the series’ lowest box office even as movie theaters wake from their pandemic slumber. The film is, simply, not very good, an inert border-crossing thriller onto which the franchise’s stale trappings are welded.

It ends, however, on an odd but revealing note: an audio collage of news broadcasts reporting that across the country, people are banding together to fight back against the racist militias that have overwhelmed the … racist theocracy. (I know.) It seems like an uncharacteristically hopeful note to end on for such a bleak series, but to close “Purge” watchers, it should make perfect sense: Against all odds, the films have a fundamentally optimistic view of human nature. Time and again, it’s established that most people are, in fact, not interested in murder, rape, arson and the like, and that the depraved violence depicted is perpetrated by mostly either psychotic outliers or a government dissatisfied with its charges’ lack of bloodlust.

That confidence in human nature reveals the fundamental flaw at the heart of the “Purge” series, and why its politics seem so head-spinningly inconsistent. The films are abrasive, button-pushing, and purposely confrontational in a way that plays on the viewers’ own insecurities and fears about the state of America’s social contract. Their subliminal reassurance of the viewer, however, defangs them in the absence of any meaningful critique. The series fails to either confront the viewer directly enough to reach any kind of real insight about the world, or provide the quality of dumb-fun pulp entertainment that would make us not care.

To take “The Purge” franchise as emblematic of our times, then, might be done better by examining its style rather than its content: Angsty, fearful, lacking clarity but willing to point an omni-directional and accusatory finger at a moment’s notice. Judging by last weekend’s aforementioned box office, the past few years of American life have somewhat exhausted our appetite for such fare. The series’ creators, however, surely appreciate that fate on some level. To quote one of the universe’s various hulking brutes, who shouts the phrase unbidden like a mantra, it’s “survival of the fucking fittest.”

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How much influence should politicians have over police? – CBC.ca

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Controversy erupted this week when allegations came to light that the Liberal government may have tried to interfere in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting where 17 people were killed.

According to RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell’s notes, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said in a phone call that she had promised the Prime Minister’s Office and then-Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair that the RCMP would publicly release information about the weapons the gunman used. Lucki was reportedly angry when the RCMP did not do so.

The Liberal government is alleged to have wanted the information made public to further their gun control agenda. Critics and opposition politicians have accused the government of attempting to use the tragedy for political gain. Lucki, Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have denied that there was interference in the investigation.

But how and when — if ever — should those who make laws be able to boss around those who enforce them? When has police interference taken place, and to what consequences did it lead?

CBC News spoke to some experts in an attempt to explain the tense, legally fuzzy and often controversial relationship between police and policymakers in Canada.

Why is policing supposed to be separate from politics?

The Supreme Court of Canada cites the Rule of Law as the founding principle of Canada’s democracy. It’s considered important to our constitutional order that no one, even the most powerful politicians in the country, can think of themselves as above the law.

But there’s another reason for police independence — in our democracy the government is supposed to be accountable to the people, which means people aren’t suppose to fear police going after them on the orders of the government.

“I think what we want to do is avoid a ‘police state,'” Kent Roach, a professor in the University of Toronto’s faculty of law, said. “And by that, I mean we want to avoid politicians telling the police who to investigate and who not to investigate.”

In states where the government can tell police what to do, experts say a pattern quickly emerges of government critics and opponents ending up in jail.

For those reasons, police autonomy in enforcing the law and protecting the public is a key ingredient in most well-functioning liberal democracies.

“Political leaders are not supposed to micromanage police services, that is antithetical to the very idea of democracy,” Temitope Oriola, a professor of criminology and sociology at the University of Alberta, said.

What does the law say?

While those principles seem like part of a basic civics lesson they’re ones Roach says many people, including police officers and politicians, often don’t understand well.

But there may be a reasonable excuse — the law itself isn’t clear.

“I think part of the problem here is that the lines of legitimate government direction to the police and illegitimate government direction are very vague.” he said.

While police independence from government is important in our democracy, Roach says it’s a principle that’s not always reflected in our laws.

“For example, the police cannot lay hate propaganda charges without prior approval of the attorney general,” he said.

“So there’s kind of no absolutes.”

Kent Roach, law professor at the University of Toronto, said Canadian law is very vague when it comes to inappropriate government direction of law enforcement. (Oliver Salathiel)

In Lucki’s case, the RCMP Act states the Commissioner “has the control and management of the force and all matters connected with the force” but “under the direction of the minister.”

Roach said the law is confusing because it doesn’t go into details about what direction means, including what type of direction is appropriate for a minister to give to an RCMP Commissioner. It also doesn’t say whether a direction has to be in writing or can be given orally.

“It’s utterly vague, right?” Roach said. 

Roach would like to see the RCMP Act amended to clarify what types of orders the government can legally give RCMP leadership. 

He said there is a clear divide between directions that set rules for police generally, which are acceptable in a democracy, and directions for police to act in a particular way in a specific case, or to take action against a particular person, which are not.

He says a legitimate government directive to police might be guidelines on what information the police are allowed make public, or ordering the police to stop using a particular technique or practice.

But a directive that would not be acceptable would be directing police to charge someone with a crime.

During the 1997 APEC Summit in Vancouver, the government was found to have interfered with RCMP operations by directing how the Mounties protected then Indonesian president Suharto. In a public inquiry report on the summit, Justice Ted Hughes concluded that the government twice tried to interfere with police operations by attempting to get police to keep protestors away from Suharto.

Hughes recommended the government amend the RCMP Act to legally clarify police independence from government. To date, no government has taken up the recommendation.

Roach says there may be a reason for the lack of action and clarity.

 “I suspect that in some ways both the police and the politicians like to kind of keep the status quo, which is quite vague and murky,” he said. “I think that is unfortunate.”

What happens when politicians try to be police?

Politicians aren’t supposed to tell police what to do, but sometimes they can’t resist. While some politicians do come from a law enforcement background, most don’t — and it can show when they try to interfere with police work.

“They don’t have the the skill, the knowledge, the expertise, the lived experience, to make operational decisions,” Laura Huey, a professor of sociology at Western University, said.

She cited the 1997 APEC Suharto controversy as an example, but there are more recent ones too.

Huey says Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s attempt to negotiate with the freedom convoy protestors earlier this year comes to mind — a move critical incident command experts told her made a bad situation worse.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson attempted to negotiate with Freedom Convoy protestors during the occupation of Ottawa earlier this year. Western University professor Laura Suey says the incident is a good example of why it’s a bad idea for politicians to take over law enforcement’s responsibilities. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

“Most police services that deal with public order have people that are highly experienced, highly trained professionals that specialize in negotiating in situations like that,” she said.

“So do we want the mayor going down and mucking around on something of which he knows absolutely nothing and had zero effect anyway?”

Roach says his favourite example involves former RCMP Commissioner Leonard Nicholson, the most decorated Mountie in history whose name the RCMP headquarters bears.

In 1959, the John Diefenbaker government told Nicholson to send more officers to police a labour dispute in Newfoundland. Nicholson chose to resign instead of comply with the order.

“So that kind of shows that this idea that the RCMP doesn’t like political direction … is built into the RCMP’s DNA,” Roach said.

Is there a better way?

If too much political interference in policing is an issue, there are also perils in too little.

Voters don’t elect police officers but do elect politicians, so they have a role acting as a check on police.

“Society also cannot afford to have a police service that is not accountable to anybody,” Oriola said.

A section of the Liberal’s 2021 campaign platform is dedicated to changes to the RCMP, in particular making the Mounties more accountable.

Oriola calls the government-police relationship a “delicate” one that requires “a fine balance” and one where intentions should be considered.

“Are you giving directions to the police service to punish political opponents, or are you giving direction … in order that we might have a better society, and improved society based on the policy priorities that you campaigned on?” he said.

Huey says more training for police services boards, who hire police chiefs, may allow them to make better hiring decisions, which in turn could inspire more confidence in police leadership and result in less political interference.

“I think that if we hire highly competent people, we need to give them the space to make the decisions,” she said. 

Roach says a potential solution, on top of more legal clarity on interference, is a law requiring any government ministers who direct police to do so in writing — including a requirement that the direction be public.

He thinks the RCMP Act could be amended with this requirement, and to permit it only outside of individual cases.

“It seems to me, in a democracy, citizens have a right to know what the minister is doing,” Roach said. “I think that that directive system could not only promote transparency, but could avoid all of these controversies.”

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Politicians should admit their dumb mistakes | TheSpec.com – Hamilton Spectator

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I can finally admit it: during my 20 years as a political staffer and elected politician I was involved in many political coverups.

Don’t get too excited, they weren’t the type of coverups that you see in movies or read about in political thrillers — no Canadian versions of Watergate, Irangate or any other gate.

No, over the years I have had to cover up the fact that politics is made up of human beings who make dumb mistakes. You see, those who work in politics and government are no different from the rest of the world. They send emails to the wrong people, miss important meetings because they forgot to write down the room number, and give the wrong drafts of speeches, briefing notes and other important documents to their bosses.

Spend a day in government and you will realize that it is nothing short of organized chaos — much more like Veep than House of Cards.

Unfortunately, as far as the public is concerned, the truth often doesn’t cut it. Can you imagine a politician admitting that the origin of their current quandary is that they couldn’t open a password protected document on their iPad or that they didn’t pay attention at a briefing because they had just learned that their son failed his math test?

Hence the coverup. People would be shocked to know how much time in government is spent trying to come up with any excuse except for the fact that mistakes happen.

I thought of this phenomenon recently when I read all the reporting about a Canadian official attending a national day event at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa and the media and opposition firestorm that followed.

With tensions running high between Canada and Russia, the presence of the official was probably not the wisest move, and it is legitimate to ask whether the Minister approved her attendance. I had to chuckle when sources came forward to tell the Globe and Mail that Departmental officials had checked with the Minister of Foreign Affair’s office, but her staff had been too busy to read the email because they were all involved in supporting the minister at an international conference.

Too busy to read an email?

It may sound like a dumb excuse, but I defy anyone to tell me that they have never been too busy to check their emails or phone messages or the ton of paper piling up in their in-basket.

It’s called being human. Even important people get overwhelmed, tired, and fed up with a constant barrage of information and requests. Even those at the top may find juggling all the demands on their time too much.

Yes, the stakes can be high in government and there needs to be extra checks in place. But in this case, we are talking about a reception. Although embarrassing, I don’t think any of our allies believe that Canada is growing soft on Russia or doesn’t take the war in Ukraine seriously.

The public seems unable to make up their minds. On the one hand they are contemptuous of politicians while on the other hand they seem unwilling to tolerate anything less than perfection from them and their officials.

Maybe if politicians were more willing to admit their dumb mistakes and the public showed a bit more understanding, less time would be spent trying to cover up the fact that governments are run by human beings.

John Milloy, a former Liberal MPP and cabinet minister, is the director of the Centre for Public Ethics at Martin Luther University College

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Abortion ruling pushes businesses to confront divisive politics – PBS NewsHour

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The Supreme Court’s decision to end the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion has catapulted businesses of all types into the most divisive corner of politics.

Some companies that stayed silent last month — when a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico — spoke up for the first time Friday, including The Walt Disney Company, which said it will reimburse employees who must travel out of state to get an abortion.

Facebook parent Meta, American Express, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs also said they would cover employee travel costs while others like Apple, Starbucks, Lyft and Yelp reiterated previous announcements taking similar action. Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia went so far as to post on LinkedIn Friday that it would provide “training and bail for those who peacefully protest for reproductive justice” and time off to vote.

But of the dozens of big businesses that The Associated Press reached out to Friday, many like McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Tyson and Marriott did not respond. Arkansas-based Walmart — the nation’s largest employer with a good portion of its stores in states that will immediately trigger abortion bans following the Friday’s Supreme Court ruling — also kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Business Roundtable, an organization that represents some of the nation’s most powerful companies, said it “does not have a position on the merits of the case.”

READ MORE: The ‘air is thick with disbelief and grief’ at a Louisiana clinic as abortion ends

A lot is at stake for companies, many of which have publicly pledged to promote women’s equality and advancement in the workplace. For those in states with restrictive abortion laws, they could now face big challenges in attracting college-educated workers who can easily move around.

Luis von Ahn, the CEO of the language app Duolingo, sent a tweet Friday aimed at lawmakers in Pennsylvania, where the company is headquartered: “If PA makes abortion illegal, we won’t be able to attract talent and we’ll have to grow our offices elsewhere.”

The ruling and the coming patchwork of abortion bans also threatens the technology boom in places like Austin, Texas as companies like Dell — which was already becoming more flexible to remote work because of the tight labor market — struggle to recruit newly minted tech graduates to their corporate hubs, said Steven Pedigo, a professor who studies economic development at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Rather than stay in Austin, do you go to New York or Seattle or the Bay Area? I think that’s a real possibility,” Pedigo said. “It becomes much more challenging, particularly when you’re looking at a young, progressive workforce, which is what technology workers tend to be.”

Emily M. Dickens, chief of staff and head of government affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management, said in a statement that nearly a quarter of organizations in a recent poll agreed that offering a health savings account to cover travel for reproductive care in another state will enhance their ability to compete for talent.

“But how these policies interact with state laws is unclear, and employers should be aware of the legal risks involved,” she said.

Dickens noted that companies that use third-party administrator to process claims on their behalf — typically big employers — are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act rather than state law. But companies that have to buy their own health insurance for their employees — typically small businesses — are subject to state regulations and have less flexibility in designing benefits.

READ MORE: Missouri’s last abortion clinic finds itself in center of Roe fallout

Offering to cover travel expenses could also make companies a target for anti-abortion lawmakers. In March, Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain, a Republican, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Citigroup, saying he would propose legislation barring localities in the state from doing business with any company that provides travel benefits for employees seeking abortions.

In his concurring opinion released Friday, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested it would be unconstitutional for a state to bar residents from traveling to another state to get an abortion.

“In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel,” Kavanaugh wrote.

[embedded content]

But a corporation’s right to fund what would be an illegal act in another state is still questionable, argues Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas.

“That’s not an interstate commerce question, per se,” she said. “So you’d need the right plaintiff.”

Meanwhile, tech companies are facing tough questions about what they’ll do if some of their millions of customers in the U.S. are prosecuted for having an abortion. Services like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft routinely hand over digital data sought by law enforcement agencies pursuing criminal investigations. That’s raised concerns from privacy advocates about enforcers of abortion laws tapping into period apps, phone location data and other sensitive online health information.

A letter Friday from four Democrats in Congress called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the phone-tracking practices of Google and Apple, warning that location identifiers used for advertising could fall into the hands of prosecutors or bounty hunters looking “to hunt down women who have obtained or are seeking an abortion.”

The Supreme Court ruling comes at a time when companies have become increasingly reliant on women to fill jobs, and especially as they face a nationwide labor shortage. Women now account for nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce, up dramatically from 37.5% in 1970 — three years before the Supreme Court ruled abortions to be legal in Roe vs. Wade — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Denied access to abortion could hit low-income workers the hardest because they’re typically in jobs with fewer protections and that are also demanding, from loading groceries onto store shelves to working as a health aide.

“As a direct result of this ruling, more women will be forced to choose between paying their rent or traveling long distances to receive safe abortion care,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents nearly 2 million janitors, health care workers and teachers in the U.S. “Working women are already struggling in poverty-wage jobs without paid leave and many are also shouldering the caregiving responsibilities for their families, typically unpaid.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants told The Associated Press that the ruling was “devastating.”

“It cuts to the core of all the work that our union has done for 75 years,” she said. “This decision is not about whether or not someone supports abortion. That’s the distraction … This is about whether or not we respect the rights of women to determine their own future.”

Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said the handful of companies are taking a stand on the court’s ruling because their customers and employees are expecting them to speak out.

“We’re in this moment in time where we’re expecting corporate leaders to also be leaders in the political sphere,” he said. “A lot of employees expect to work in companies that not only pay them well, but whose values are aligned with theirs.”

But the vast majority of executives will likely avoid the thorny topic and focus on things like inflation or supply chain disruptions, he said.
That, too, comes with risks.

“They can either support travel for out-of-state care and risk lawsuits and the ire of local politicians, or they can not include this coverage and risk the ire of employees,” Schweitzer said.
___
AP business writers Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island; Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit; Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco; David Koenig in Dallas and Ken Sweet in New York contributed to the story.

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