Across the country, reproductive health advocates have rallied to take a stand against the recent spate of laws severely restricting a woman’s right to a safe abortion, if she’s even allowed to have one at all. And in tandem with the #StopTheBans protests yesterday, seven female-run brands—Sustain Natural, Thinx, LOOM, Dame, Cora, Clary Collection, and Fur—took out a full-page ad in The New York Times that not only fiercely affirmed a woman’s right to choose, but urged big businesses to actually do something about it.
“For too long, corporate America has been largely silent on speaking up for sexual and reproductive health and rights,” the letter read. “That must change. Today, we loudly and boldly declare that we will not be silent in defense of fundamental human rights and we challenge our peers in the business community to do the same. Now is the time to speak up. Together, we can defeat these unconstitutional attacks on our rights.”
Signed by the original instigator of the ad, Meika Hollender of Sustain, as well as Maria Molland of Thinx, Erica Chidi Cohen and Quinn Lundberg of LOOM, Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman of Dame, Molly Hayward of Cora, Adriel Denae and Jen Auerbach of Clary Collection, and Laura Schubert and Lillian Tung of Fur, the letter proudly declared: “As women, and business leaders, we support the right to choose today and every day.”
According to Hollender, it was last Thursday, on the heels of the Alabama Senate signing a bill that put a near-total ban on abortion, that she was first inspired to take action. She set out to assemble a group of peers—and competitors—to issue a battle cry against the legislation’s attack on access to the procedure, as well as corporate America’s lack of support for women’s reproductive rights.
“I’m an activist trapped in a capitalist’s body,” Hollender tells Vogue. “This is a really important moment because things have gotten so bad and there’s so much at stake. There’s no gender equality if there’s no access to abortion. It’s the best way to oppress women. So I had this idea to create an open letter in The New York Times so that we could galvanize all of our fears, take a stand, and hopefully motivate those who aren’t with us to come our way.” Forty-eight hours after the idea was sparked, 10 fellow female CEOs had cosigned. “To me, it was critical that all of us come together because we wouldn’t be where we are without our reproductive rights,” she adds.
For all parties involved, the initiative was an investment—but one with an important, if not priceless, ROI. “As startups and smaller businesses, it was a big spend,” admits Cohen, a doula and CEO of LOOM. “I’ve attended many abortions—supporting, advising, and mentoring women. I have witnessed and truly understand the process as an integral part of heath care and family planning.” She also points out that abortion could be an essential tool for anyone who becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Or for a person who has to terminate a pregnancy due to life threatening fetal abnormalities. And, that overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s right to legal, safe abortion under the Constitution, would put more than 25 million women at risk of losing access to abortion. As Cohen declares: “We have to give people that have uteruses the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they want to bring a child into this world.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue