Delta Air Lines is staying neutral in the battle over abortion.
The Atlanta-based airline, one of the largest employers in Georgia, announced this week it will not be taking sides in the debate over the Peach State’s new pro-life legislation, which outlaws abortion after a heartbeat is detectable.
Speaking during Recode’s annual conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the law is an issue for the courts to settle, according to NBC News.
“This is something that the courts need to settle and resolve, not corporate America, at least for us,” he explained. “I can’t win.”
With 80,000 employees servicing some 200 million customers every year, Bastian told Recode editor-at-large Kara Swisher his company can’t “take one group and put it over another group when you’ve got such an emotional — some would say almost religious — view as to what the right answer is.”
Bastian’s suggestion that he “can’t win,” it should be noted, might have been a reference to the heat he took in March 2018, when the airline ended its discount partnership with the National Rifle Association. Before the deal was quashed, NRA members were eligible for discounted rates from Delta Air Lines.
The Delta executive explained to employees that he decided to pull the plug on the offering because the airline’s “values are not for sale.”
In the aftermath of that decision, though, the NRA successfully lobbied Georgia lawmakers to take away Delta’s tax break, which ended up costing the company some $40 million in taxes.
Swisher, for her part, pushed back a little on Bastian’s answer, arguing companies like Disney have spoken very publicly against the pro-life law in Georgia.
Bastian reminded the Recode journalist Disney has employees — actors, producers, and directors — who are claiming they’re unwilling to work in the state unless the law is overturned.
“This is our state, this is where we live, this is where we’ve got 30,000 employees,” he said. “And whichever way you go on the topic, you’re gonna alienate millions — tens of millions of people.”
Bastian added it’s best for CEOs and corporate executives to “stay away” from social activism.