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US Companies Lash Out at Texas Voting, Abortion, Gun Law Changes


FILE - A sign for the ride-sharing service Lyft is pictured. Lyft Inc. was one of several companies on Sept. 3, 2021, that criticized new Texas laws on abortion, handguns and voting limitations.

U.S. companies including Lyft Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and Silicon Laboratories Inc. voiced their displeasure Friday at new Texas laws on abortion, handguns and voting limitations, a fresh sign of increased efforts by some firms to signal their commitment to social responsibility.

The Texas abortion law, which took effect early Wednesday and imposes a near-total ban on abortions, leaves enforcement up to individual citizens, enabling them to sue anyone who provides or "aids or abets" an abortion after six weeks.

GoDaddy, the Website hosting service, on Friday shut down a Texas anti-abortion website that allowed people to anonymously report suspected abortions.

'24 hours to move'

"Last night we informed prolifewhistleblower.com they have violated GoDaddy's terms of service and have 24 hours to move to a different provider," the company said in a statement.

Texas Right to Live, the group that owns the website, said it would move its assets to another provider.

Lyft and Uber Technologies said they would cover all legal fees for the ride-hail companies' drivers sued under the law.

Lyft will also donate $1 million to women's health provider Planned Parenthood, chief executive Logan Green said on Twitter.

"This is an attack on women's access to health care and on their right to choose," Green said of the new Texas law.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted in response to Green's announcement that his company would cover drivers' legal fees in the same way, thanking Green for taking the initiative.

The ban potentially includes drivers who unknowingly take women to clinics for abortion procedures.

On Wednesday, Tinder-owner Match Group's CEO and rival dating platform Bumble said they were setting up funds to help Texas-based employees seeking abortion care outside the state.

Companies also reacted to the Texas legislature this week passing the final version of a bill that outlaws drive-through and 24-hour voting locations and gives poll watchers more power, widely seen as restricting voting access.

"We hoped for a different outcome for this legislation, and we're disappointed by this result," an American Airlines spokesperson said in an email.

A spokesperson for Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., based in Texas, said, "As a global company of 60,000 team members, HPE encourages our team members to engage in the political process where they live and work and make their voices heard through advocacy and at the voting booth."

Gun law

Meanwhile, a law allowing people to carry concealed handguns without any permit went into effect in Texas on Wednesday.

"Looking at the abortion law, or the gun law, or the voting law, it's a form of vigilante justice, where you're empowering individuals to enforce the law," said Tyson Tuttle, the CEO of Austin-based Silicon Laboratories. "It's been a rough week in Texas and a harbinger of what's to come across the country."

The reaction to the law changes in Texas comes at a time when many companies are seeking to burnish their corporate and environmental governance credentials with consumers.

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