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Despite Inclusive Rhetoric, Corporations Back Extremist State Legislators Waging War on Women

"In their corporate literature, these companies present themselves as champions of women and gender equality. But they have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians seeking to roll back reproductive rights."

Pro-choice protesters in Chicago, July 2018.

Pro-choice protesters in Chicago, July 2018. A number of states have instituted harsh anti-abortion laws in 2019. (Photo: Charles Edward Miller, Flickr)

American corporations talk a big game about supporting women's rights, but new reporting shows that language isn't backed up by action. 

"These are the same companies that publicly claim to support gender equality and women's rights"
—Judd Legum

Journalist Judd Legum, the founder and former editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress, revealed Monday at his new subscription service outlet Popular Info that corporate donations to state legislators instrumental in pushing abortion bans in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri are in contrast to the public image of those companies. 

"While these policies are extreme, the politicians responsible have the financial backing of some of America's largest companies," wrote Legum in a post detailing the donations published Monday.

Legum took aim at six specific companies: AT&T, Walmart, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola, and insurance corporation Aetna. Each corporation proudly promotes inclusion, equality, and concern for the health of women in company statements. 

"In their corporate literature, these companies present themselves as champions of women and gender equality," wrote Legum. "But they have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians seeking to roll back reproductive rights."

Of the six companies, AT&T donated by far the most—$196,600, about three times as much as the next highest donor, Eli Lilly, at $66,250.

Per Legum:

According to AT&T's corporate website, the company makes "sure women at AT&T feel supported in everything they do."

"We have many incredibly talented female leaders at all levels and in all businesses across our company… Equality at AT&T will remain my top priority," Corey Anthony, the company's Chief Diversity Officer said.

AT&T has donated nearly $200,000 to politicians that advocated for and enacted abortion bans in six states.

In a lengthy Twitter thread detailing his reporting, Legum noted that while the information he gathered is public, it's usually difficult to find due to overly and unnecessarily complicated state disclosure forms. 

"Each state has a completely different interface and system for reporting results," said Legum.

The new reporting follows a post from Legum on May 15 concentrated on Alabama and featuring companies like Exxon, Caterpillar, Boeing, State Farm, and others. The article also featured five of the six companies from Monday's report, save Aetna. 

"These are the same companies that publicly claim to support gender equality and women's rights," wrote Legum. 

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