RWU Law professor: Employers should prepare for overturning of Roe v. Wade

BRITTANY RAPOSA, associate director and professor of bar support at the RWU School of Law, spoke on Monday afternoon about how companies can support employees and prepare for potential workforce shifts if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

PROVIDENCE – Though abortion access is expected to remain stable in Rhode Island, now is a good time for employers to reinforce reproductive health policies and prepare for potential workforce shifts if Roe v. Wade is overturned, said a Roger Williams University law professor Monday.

“What’s going on is that individuals are very scared right now,” said Brittany Raposa, associate director and professor of bar support at the RWU School of Law. Now, employers have an increased duty to “ensure that [they’re] protecting employees and their reproductive health care, and their reproductive health care rights,” she added.

Raposa spoke during a virtual event, What comes after Roe v. Wade for the workplace?, co-hosted by the Providence-based Diversity and Inclusion Professionals and the R.I. Society for Human Resource Management.

Following the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court decision last month, many expect the court will overturn the 1973 landmark decision that in solidified abortion access rights on a nationwide level.

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The overturning of this decision would not immediately threaten abortion access in Rhode Island, where legislators in 2019 codified abortion access protections into state law with the Reproductive Privacy Act.

But even so, individuals “feel that their reproductive rights are under attack, regardless of if a state is still protecting abortion,” Raposa said, and want to see clear company policies protecting the right to choose, as well as strong family policies.

“They are looking at their benefit packages when seeking employment, now more than ever, to look at the cost and coverage for reproductive health care and child care services,” she said.

Raposa encouraged employers to look at their benefit packages and ensure that they are providing coverage and other benefits that align with their culture, beliefs and employee desires.

“Regardless of if your state is going to codify Roe v. Wade, consider parental leave policies and granting access to more remote work options,” Raposa said.

These policies are not just relevant to a company’s current employees, she added, but to potential workers who may move to the Northeast as part of a larger workforce shift.

Around half the states in the U.S., mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to enact policies that will ban abortions or significantly minimize abortion access if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That could lead to increased movement into regions with stronger protections on abortion access, Raposa said, including the Northeast.

“We could see a noticeable migration of the workforce up here, where many states in this area have codified Roe v. Wade,” she said.

Conversely, this shift may also leave companies in all areas of the U.S. reluctant to expand operations into states with harsh restrictions on abortion, Raposa said, which could “potentially impact the way to draw talent to other facilities and … the potential growing of an operation.”

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at

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