In order to avoid “a hostile working environment”, the US group Meta prohibits its employees from discussing the Supreme Court decision on abortions in the USA, which became known on Friday, in the internal company network. If abortion were “openly discussed”, this could stir up and agitate employees.
The group operates the well-known platforms Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. He has advocated stricter control of the content of conversations since earlier discussion processes among employees, which went negatively for him. The case of George Floyd, who was murdered by the US police, but also the cases of whistleblowers among employees, such as Frances Haugen, contributed to this decision, writes the New York Times.
Discussions became public
Accordingly, the company updated internal communication guidelines in 2020 to curb unrest and disputes among employees. The latter were told that they were no longer allowed to discuss political or social issues on company-wide channels such as the “Workplace” message board.
Internal discussions, for example after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, became public and revealed employee dissatisfaction with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s position on controversial postings. He defended leaving a tweet by the then US President Donald Trump, which was understood as glorifying violence, on the platforms.
Abortion debate banned in May
A few weeks ago, Meta put the abortion discussion on the list of topics that employees should no longer visibly discuss in large groups. A company memo dated May 12 drew attention to the fact that open discussions about abortions, which were previously permitted, had led to “considerable disturbances in the workplace.” The company has therefore decided to no longer allow an open discussion. Employees who are particularly struggling with the decision of the Supreme Court should seek exchange in one-on-one meetings or only in small groups of “like-minded colleagues”.
As those affected told the New York Times, messages that violated the policy in team chats would be quickly removed. Employees are also said to have vented about the internal guidelines on other platforms. For example, an employee on LinkedIn openly criticized the fact that Meta forbids discussions about the Supreme Court decision and that corresponding messages are quickly deleted. Conversations are only possible in groups with a maximum of 20 colleagues.
However, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Meta said internally on Friday that it would reimburse travel expenses for employees who “need access to out-of-state health care and reproductive services” – to the extent permitted by law. With this step, the company would support employees who are abroad or in other US states to have an abortion.
Welcome to the maid’s report
The US Supreme Court on Friday overturned the country’s previously liberal abortion law. The mostly conservative court thus paved the way for stricter abortion laws in the states – up to and including complete bans.
What exactly applies will depend on the individual states of the USA. Some states had already prepared for the decision. In states like Arkansas, Kentucky or Louisiana, abortions are no longer allowed. There are usually only exceptions for medical emergencies.
A number of liberal states, on the other hand, have announced that they intend to further protect the right to abortion. US President Joe Biden also announced measures to protect women’s rights.
Celebrities such as American author Stephen King commented on the decision with the words “Welcome to The Handmaid’s Tale”. He was alluding to a dystopian vision of the future in the book of the same name by Margaret Atwoods, in which fertile women are no longer allowed to control their bodies and have to carry children even after rape. A reality that the new abortion law in the USA actually makes possible.
Paragraph 219a deleted
While abortion law in the USA was tightened to the point of being completely banned, in Germany the traffic light coalition, with the help of the left in the Bundestag, overturned the so-called “advertising ban” for abortions. Paragraph 219a, which came into force in 1933, is deleted. So far, it has provided for fines and imprisonment of up to two years for those who publicly inform about abortions and possible methods.
With the deletion, all judgments against doctors that have been made on the basis of the paragraph since 1990 are annulled. Among other things, this affects the Germany-wide known Giessen doctor Kristina Hänel, who has been campaigning for safe abortions and appropriate information for those affected for years. She was first convicted in 2017 for posting information about abortion methods on her website.
Chancellor Scholz (SPD) also said with a view to the USA, “Women’s rights are under threat. We have to defend them consistently”. CDU leader Friedrich Merz, on the other hand, criticizes the upcoming deletion of paragraph 219a. He sees this endangering the “social peace” that, from a conservative point of view, the previous “criminal regulations on abortion in this country have maintained for decades”.
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