Eli Lilly Faces Questions Over Abortion Stance

Company donated to Indiana legislators behind the restrictions
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2022 7:35 PM CDT
Company Opposed to Abortion Law Was Slow to Say So
Demonstrators stand outside the House chamber last Friday at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.   (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

Eli Lilly's suggestion that it will reconsider adding employees in Indiana in light of its new, nearly total restrictions on abortions might have seemed like it would encourage opponents of the law—one of the state's largest employers exerting leverage on behalf of its position. But the response isn't so black-and-white, and some of it has raised awkward questions for the company.

  • The delayed reaction: Lilly didn't suggest it opposed the legislation until after it was signed into law by the governor. Nor did Cummins, another large Indiana company that issued a similar statement, WXIN reports. They'd been asked. On June 30, IndyStar wrote about a letter signed by about 60 companies in opposition to abortion restrictions. Lilly said at the time that it had no comment on the issue, while Cummins said it didn't have a stance yet on the US Supreme Court's rejection of Roe v. Wade. In July, ACLU of Indiana announced that more than 250 businesses were against abortion restrictions. Lilly and Cummins did not sign that letter, either, and they haven't said why they changed their positions.

  • "A slap in the face": An activist and sexual trauma survivor who testified before the legislature said the final version of the bill might have included fewer restrictions if the companies had voiced their opposition sooner. "It was cowardice and compromise," said Lisa Wilken, who lobbied for greater abortion access for victims of abuse, per IndyStar. "They compromised women's safety and the revictimization of girls and women."
  • Political donations: Lilly didn't mention it, but the company has financially supported many of the politicians who brought the bill into existence, including its Republican sponsors in the House and Senate. The pharmaceutical giant also contributed to the last two campaigns of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who called a special session to get the bill passed and then signed it, Michael Hiltzik writes in a Los Angeles Times column. Companies tend to make such donations to try to get their way on specific issues, Hiltzik says, though the policies or politicians might conflict with larger interests or the social values the companies support the rest of the time.

Lilly is welcome to move next door, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said this week. His state has no such restrictions on abortion access. "Already I've reached out to companies that are affected in Indiana," Pritzker said, per the Chicago Tribune. "We treat workers here well and, very importantly, we protect their individual rights and their families rights," he said. After the law was approved, Lilly said it would hurt the company's "ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world." At the same press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago is "always going to be a city that respects women and their decisions." (More Indiana abortion law stories.)

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