Speed Reads

Texas abortion law

The Texas abortion ban is already clashing with the state's tech industry aspirations

Until a few years ago, the business wing of the Republican Party called the shots in Texas. From Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on down, that no longer seems to be the case. This year alone, Abbott has created a system to jail undocumented migrants, made it harder for many Texans to vote, tried to ban vaccine and mask mandates, and signed the nation's most restrictive abortion ban, enforced by "deputized" Texas residents.

The start-ups and tech companies that moved to Austin or expanded Texas operations when cutting taxes and regulations was ascendant have noted the rightward shift, and while few have publicly criticized the abortion law, SB 8, many are now "worried about retaining workers and recruiting top tech talent to the state," The Washington Post reports. A survey by PerryUndem released earlier this month found that 66 percent of college-educated "top talent" said they would not take a job in a state that has a six-week abortion ban.

Lyft and Uber pledged to cover the legal costs of any employees taken to court for driving someone to get an abortion, Dallas dating conglomerate Match and Austin online survey company QuestionPro say they will cover the costs for any employee who travels out of state to get an abortion, and Salesforce told employees on Friday that if any of them have "concerns about access to reproductive health care in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family."

Gaurab Chakrabarti, CEO of Silicon Valley–backed Houston chemicals startup Solugen, said the company plans to open a new research and development facility, and "we've come to the conclusion after talking to lots of candidates that they want to join Solugen but they don't feel comfortable coming to Texas, so for us it's become a no brainer to have R&D facilities elsewhere." Chief technology officer Sean Hunt added that "this isn't really about politics," but rather "bad legislation if Texas wants to be a business-friendly state."

Abbott told CNBC in early September that SB 8 "is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all," specifically name-checking Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "Elon consistently tells me that he likes the social policies in the state of Texas," he said. Musk tweeted in response that he "would prefer to stay out of policies" but generally believes "government should rarely impose its will upon the people."