Chicago pitches itself to Fortune 500 companies on abortion

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and World Business Chicago have a message for CEOs in states restricting abortion: You can always move here instead.

Chicago pitches itself to Fortune 500 companies on abortion

Chicago's City Hall is moving to turn abortion politics to the city’s advantage.

In a move it hopes will bring tangible results, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and leaders of World Business Chicago, the city’s economic development arm, personally dropped off letters Monday at the city's Main Post Office to 300 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies located in states where abortion rights are in jeopardy after last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Read the letter below.

The letter—which will be reproduced in a Wall Street Journal ad running this week—is signed by Lightfoot, WBC President Michael Fassnacht and WBC Vice Chair Mellody Hobson.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, “some 25 states—including yours—now have trigger bans on abortion, pre-Roe restrictions, fetal heartbeat laws or legislatures taking steps to ban or criminalize abortion,” the letter states. Residents of those states “may suffer as a result of the decision. Families and individuals now can be punished for private health care decisions. Not to mention, many lives will be upended as people are stripped of a 50-year-old right.”

The letter then goes on to list some of the city’s virtues, saying that despite recent moves of the headquarters of Boeing and Citadel from the city, a regular stream of smaller companies continues to expand operations here. “In Chicago, we believe diversity is our strength,” it concludes.

'Not a stunt'

In a brief phone interview, Fassnacht said the letter is “not a stunt” but part of a serious continuing effort to get corporate leaders to decide what’s really good for their company and staff. As the letter states, “Companies are facing a new challenge that will impact the health and well-being of their people." 

‘It’s important to raise awareness” of factors that may be important in a location decision, Fassnacht said. Just like tax policy, companies need to know issues that affect quality of life for their employees are important too, he said. 

WBC earlier took similar but much smaller steps, placing an ad in Texas newspapers last year after that state’s legislature limited voting and reproductive rights and a similar one this spring in Texas, Arizona and Florida after limiting the rights of transgender people.