By weigh­ing in against state abor­tion laws, big busi­ness has gone too far

Lodi News-Sentinel - - OPINION - CYN­THIA M. ALLEN Cyn­thia M. Allen is a colum­nist for the Fort Worth Star-Tele­gram. Read­ers may send her email at [email protected]­

In early 2017, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan

Pa­trick opened the leg­isla­tive ses­sion by pri­or­i­tiz­ing a mea­sure that would have re­quired peo­ple in Texas to use the bath­room of their bi­o­log­i­cal sex in pub­lic schools and state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

The bill was con­tro­ver­sial. It en­joyed a sur­pris­ing amount of pub­lic sup­port. And it failed, as I be­lieve it should have.

I wrote at the time that it was un­nec­es­sary and an­tag­o­nis­tic. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which had made push­ing con­tro­ver­sial pro­gres­sive so­cial poli­cies a mis­sion dur­ing its wan­ing years, was on its way out, and Re­pub­li­cans at the state and na­tional level would be bet­ter served pur­su­ing a more pro­duc­tive agenda — strength­en­ing pro­tec­tions of re­li­gious free­dom, for ex­am­ple.

But one of the most con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ments against the bill — the one that prob­a­bly tipped the scales — was that the law would dam­age the Texas econ­omy. If the bill passed, the state would be perceived as big­oted, and com­pa­nies that would be oth­er­wise at­tracted to the eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment would elect to take their busi­ness else­where.

The Texas As­so­ci­a­tion of Busi­ness es­ti­mated the leg­is­la­tion could cost the Lone Star State between $964 mil­lion and $8.5 bil­lion and more than 100,000 jobs.

At the time, I found that ar­gu­ment com­pelling, es­pe­cially when used to op­pose a piece of leg­is­la­tion that would in prac­tice be im­pos­si­ble to en­force and in re­al­ity would have very lit­tle dis­cernible ef­fect on the health and safety of Tex­ans.

But the un­due in­flu­ence of

the cor­po­rate world — through threat of boy­cott and eco­nomic black­mail — to dis­rupt the demo­cratic process has ac­cel­er­ated. And it’s start­ing to make me an­gry.

As Tim Car­ney ex­plains in the Wash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner, big busi­ness has been team­ing up with the po­lit­i­cal left in a co­or­di­nated as­sault against views it con­sid­ers un­ac­cept­able. And in nearly ev­ery case, this pow­er­ful coali­tion seeks to stran­gle and quash per­spec­tives that are — no sur­prise — con­ser­va­tive.

Free­dom of con­science. Re­stric­tions on abor­tion. Is­sues that divide the coun­try, that are of­ten com­plex and nu­anced and should be ad­dressed through an open and trans­par­ent demo­cratic process, de­serve no such hear­ing in the eyes of this un­holy al­liance.

Big busi­nesses joined Democrats in declar­ing “it un­ac­cept­able for states to even al­low in­di­vid­ual small busi­ness­men the free­dom of con­science,” writes Car­ney, re­fer­ring to the Supreme Court case in­volv­ing a Colorado baker who didn’t want to make a spe­cialty cake for a gay cou­ple’s wedding.

Ma­jor com­pa­nies such as Disney, NBC Uni­ver­sal and Net­flix are threat­en­ing to boy­cott Ge­or­gia if the state’s new law re­strict­ing abor­tion goes into ef­fect. “These incredibly pow­er­ful firms have con­cluded that the pro-life po­si­tion is beyond the bounds of ac­cept­able de­bate,” Car­ney con­tin­ues. In­deed, these cor­po­rate lead­ers have de­ter­mined that they are Amer­ica’s moral com­pass.

This past week, ex­ec­u­tives from 180 large cor­po­ra­tions joined forces to re­buke an­tiabor­tion mea­sures in state leg­is­la­tures around the coun­try by is­su­ing a joint state­ment un­der the odd ti­tle “Don’t Ban Equal­ity.” If it’s about work­place equal­ity, why aren’t they threat­en­ing bans of states that fail to pro­vide paid ma­ter­nity leave?

Lib­er­als have com­plained in the past that busi­ness has un­fet­tered power to ex­ert in­flu­ence in pol­i­tics. It was the left that railed against the Supreme Court de­ci­sions in the Ci­ti­zens United which broad­ened cor­po­rate speech pro­tec­tions. Yet left­ists are very happy to join big busi­ness in its ef­forts to ex­ert eco­nomic harm on states that pass laws with which they dis­agree.

Which brings us to a sec­ond irony: that the busi­ness world ap­pears bliss­fully un­fazed that half of the coun­try — pre­sum­ably half of their em­ploy­ees and clien­tele, as well — do not agree with po­si­tions adopted by cor­po­rate Amer­ica. Abor­tion is no ex­cep­tion.

And for all their self-right­eous con­de­scen­sion, big busi­nesses seem un­con­cerned that the neg­a­tive ef­fects of their boy­cotts and other eco­nomic tac­tics will fall dis­pro­por­tion­ately on poor and mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tions of the states they tar­get.

Cor­po­rate Amer­ica is no longer in the pocket of “coun­try club” Re­pub­li­cans. It’s on board with the “woke” left.

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