Showrunners Specific Abortion Safety Demands Ignored By Studios

The studios responded collectively Wednesday night after more than a thousand show producers behind some of the world’s most popular shows mobilized to demand specific abortion safety protocols be implemented at the studio level. The letter was meant to reassure the showrunners that they shared the same concerns, but did not address the specific demands the showrunners were seeking. It also ignored calls to stop donations to anti-choice politicians.

However, the response did come before the show host’s deadline for responses, which was August 10 at 11:59 pm PT.

On July 28, 411 TV creators and show producers sent a personal letter to the studio outlining four requirements for specific safety protocols for pregnant employees in states where abortion is or will be banned. Show producers want systems in place to ensure safe, funded, and private travel for employees seeking abortions; they want protocols for care of “ectopic pregnancies and other pregnancy complications” during labor; they want to provide People who help employees have abortions are offered guaranteed safeguards “with regard to criminal and civil legal protections.”

The letters also called on the companies to “immediately cease all political contributions to anti-abortion candidates and political action committees.” A panel of showrunners including Shonda Rhimes, Issa Rae, Natasha Lyonne, Mindy Kaling, and many others gave a deadline of 10 working days from the release date.

The letters were followed up on Aug. 1 by 594 male presenters who issued a statement of support, writing: “Abortion doesn’t just affect people who can get pregnant. It affects us all.” Our letter was sent by replying to the first letter.

The creative community’s demands were sparked by the Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively ending federal protections for abortion.

The studio’s response respects individual union health plans, noting that “some of these industry health plans have passed amendments to provide reimbursement for travel expenses related to abortion services for participants and their families who live or work in the following states. Such services cannot be legally obtained.”

It went on to say that they are “continuing to assess the ways we can best support our employees and workers in support of our production,” which appears to open the door to more agreements.

The letter, signed by AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Discovery, is the original recipient of the show’s quest – and ends with a cheerful tone: “We look forward to working with you to continue producing great content for audiences around the world.”

The Performers Union retained a publicist who declined to comment.

Thank you for your letter of July 28, 2022. We share your concern for the health, safety, and well-being of our dedicated employees and those who support what we make. We believe they should have access to safe and effective healthcare and their privacy should be protected.

Each of our individually designed corporate health plans provides comprehensive health care coverage for our respective employees. As programs and policies change and expand, we have been independently updating our respective employees — who live and work across the country — to provide the reproductive health care and other support that states that restrict or ban abortion now need.

Under the collective bargaining framework, the industry health plan jointly administered by the union and the management trustee covers the majority of workers in scripted film and television production. By working with various industry health plan staff and union trustees to develop these plans, our managing trustees quickly reviewed existing health benefits, some of which have passed amendments to provide travel costs associated with securing abortion services. Reimbursement for participants and their dependents who live or work in states where such services are not legally available. We understand that other industry health plans will consider similar changes this month. Participants in various industry programs have received communications about these revisions directly from the programs.

We are pleased that our industry partners have swiftly addressed this important issue and are committed to continuing to evaluate how we can best provide the employees and workers who support our production.

We would like to assure you that as we continue to monitor this evolving situation, we are solely focused on supporting the health, safety, well-being, and privacy of our respective employees and those who support our productions. We look forward to working with you to continue producing great content for audiences around the world.

AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Discovery

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