A growing number of companies, from Match to GoDaddy to Uber, have spoken out against Texas' restrictive new abortion law

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Yahoo News 05 September, 2021 - 09:22am 41 views

Is abortion illegal in Texas?

Abortion in Texas is regulated by the Texas Heartbeat Act, the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. As of July 11, 2021, 30 cities in Texas have enacted local abortion bans. wikipedia.orgAbortion in Texas

The law, which went into effect Tuesday, bans abortions after medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and often before women know they’re pregnant. It also gives citizens the right to file civil suits and collect damages against anyone who is considered to be aiding an abortion — including those who transport women to clinics.

Lyft CEO Logan Green said on Friday that his company created a fund to cover 100 percent of the legal fees drivers may face if sued under the law.

In a statement, Lyft described the law as "incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company."

“We want to be clear: Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride,” the statement said. “Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law.”

Green also blasted the Texas abortion law on Twitter, saying it "threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go— especially women exercising their right to choose."

This is an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose. @Lyft is donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access. We encourage other companies to join us.

"This is an attack on women’s access to healthcare and on their right to choose," Green tweeted, adding that Lyft will also be donating $1 million to Planned Parenthood "to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access."

Shortly afterwards, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi promised to join Lyft's efforts with a similar policy for its drivers.

"Drivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team Uber is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way," Khosrowshahi tweeted in response to Green's tweet.

Right on @logangreen - drivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team @Uber is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way. Thanks for the push. https://t.co/85LhOUctSc

Abortion funds and practical support organizations that provide women in need with money, transportation, lodging, recovery care and child care, could also face civil suits under the new law as well as doctors, nurses, domestic violence counselors and even friends, parents, spouses and clergy members who drive a woman to a clinic or even just provide counseling about whether to have the procedure.

The Texas law went into effect after the Supreme Court denied an emergency appeal from abortion providers this week. It is considered the biggest curb to the constitutional right to an abortion in decades. It does not make exceptions for rape or incest.

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Are Social Security benefit cuts a real possibility? What to know, and how best to plan for it

Daily Kos 05 September, 2021 - 08:00am

Here are answers to questions regarding Social Security’s retirement financing, where it’s headed, and what it means for the 93% of Americans tied into the system.

Media reports have focused on the pending depletion of the trust fund supporting Social Security retirement benefits. This OASI fund, for Old-Age & Survivors Insurance, is now projected to run out of money in 2033. If including disability benefits, the DI fund, the system could be insolvent by 2034.

Even without this cushion, Social Security will still collect payroll and self-employment taxes and even income taxes (some higher earners face taxes on a portion of their benefits). Still, all this portends a cut in benefits, an increase in taxes or other actions to get the system’s cash flow back to equilibrium.

Yes. Think of Social Security's retirement system as having a checking account and a savings account. The checking account receives all that payroll tax and other income and is constantly doling out benefits and paying other expenses. In years when income is comparatively low, it taps into the savings account, the trust fund, to pay benefits in full. Unfortunately, the Social Security system, like many Americans, has leaned heavily on savings withdrawals lately, and this cushion could run dry by 2033.

Yes, as it has done several times in the past. Most of these remedies involve higher payroll taxes, benefit cuts or a combination. Higher taxes could spread across the board or focus on higher earners, for example. Benefit cuts also could be applied across the board or target high earners. There are options, but time is running out.

“Taking action sooner rather than later will permit consideration of a broader range of solutions and provide more time to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to report,” the trustees said in their latest report.

Yet in today's highly politicized environment, Congressional action doesn’t seem imminent.

Another way to look at it is by examining how much of a typical retiree's income will be paid or replaced by Social Security benefits. Pensions, personal savings, perhaps housing equity and other assets make up the rest.

People have many options to shore up their personal finances to make them less reliant on Social Security. The whole field of retirement planning is tied, at least partly, to generating enough income to support a standard of living beyond what Social Security provides. The system was never intended to cover all of your retirement needs. The typical payment to retirees is just a bit above $1,500 a month.

There are many more possibilities. For example, if your income is low, take a look at the Retirement Saver's Credit, which provides a modest government retirement match, worth up to $1,000 per person, in the form of a tax credit. If you have access to a Health Savings Account at work, start contributing money. These accounts offer a tax deduction upfront, while withdrawals can be taken tax-free for health costs in retirement.

If you're already in good shape, with ample money in IRAs or a 401(k) plan, devise a withdrawal strategy, taking Required Minimum Distributions into account, so that you minimize taxes and avoid a tax bill on some of your Social Security benefits.

The key argument for delaying is that you will lock in higher monthly benefits that can help you avoid running out of money in old age. Keep in mind, also, that future COLAs or cost-of-living adjustments will get tacked onto larger benefits. Longevity risk explains why many, if not most, financial experts favor delaying for as long as you can.  

GoDaddy, Lyft, and Uber Defend Women's Right to Healthcare Over Texas' New Restrictive Abortion Law

PEOPLE 04 September, 2021 - 01:21pm

Under the law, abortions are banned after about six weeks of pregnancy — before many expecting women would even know they were pregnant. Anyone that attempts to assist those looking to do so is at risk of prosecution as well.

On Friday, GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race confirmed that the website hosting service gave the state 24 hours to find a new host for their website due to violating their terms of service, according to NPR

The now-defunct website created by Texas Right to Life had encouraged individuals to report violators of the new law with the promise of a possible $10,000 reward. 

Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Kimberlyn Schwartz said the group's IT team was "already in process of transferring our assets to another provider" and promised to have the site restored within 24 to 48 hours, per the Times.

Ride-share competitors Uber and Lyft have both agreed to pay for any legal fees incurred by drivers employed by them in Texas regarding any potential violations of the restrictive new law. 

In a statement released Friday, Lyft called the burden put on both drivers and riders under the new law "completely unacceptable."

The company also promised to donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood "to help ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access."

Lyft founder and CEO Logan Green shared an abridged version of the statement in a thread on Twitter. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi hopped on board a short time later.

"Right on @logangreen — drivers shouldn't be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team @Uber is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way," he wrote in response, thanking Green "for the push."

"Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride," the company said in Friday's statement. 

"Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why," the statement continued. "Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law."

Netflix took similar steps in 2019 after Georgia passed its own controversial abortion bill mirrored in the current Texas law. The legislation banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the supposed time when a doctor can allegedly detect a fetal heartbeat.

"We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law," said Sarandos, adding the company would work with the ACLU and others in court. 

In a 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block Texas' new abortion law late Wednesday night, essentially eliminating the rights established in Roe v. Wade in Texas. It is now considered the most restrictive abortion law in the country.

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