Studios Respond to Showrunners’ Letter Demanding Abortion-Access Protocols

As requested, the studios have issued a written response to the letter signed by 411 female showrunners (and co-signed by nearly 1,000 additional directors and male showrunners) asking them to step in and help ensure access to legal abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“We share your concerns around the health, safety and well-being of our dedicated employees and the people who support our productions,” AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Discovery wrote in a joint letter issued at close of business Wednesday. Lionsgate, which was reportedly one of the recipients of the showrunners’ letter, was not named in the studio response.

“We have been independently updating our respective employees — who live and work throughout the country — as plans and policies change and expand to provide reproductive care and other support now needed in states that have restricted or outlawed abortion access,” the letter continued. “Most workers on scripted film and TV productions are covered by industry health plans that are jointly administered by union and management trustees under the collective bargaining framework. In partnership with various industry health plan staff and the union trustees on those plans, our management trustees worked swiftly to review existing health benefits, and several of these industry health plans have already adopted amendments providing for reimbursement for travel expenses associated with securing abortion services for participants and their dependents who reside or work in states where such services cannot be lawfully obtained.”

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On July 28, the female showrunners sent a letter to the studios and streamers asking for written plans for protecting employees’ ability to secure legal abortions, particularly those living and working in states that moved to ban such procedures after the high court reversed abortion as a constitutional right. “Within ten business days of today we require review of your current abortion safety plan detailing [the company’s] policies and processes to ensure our safety, protect our health and defend our human rights,” they wrote.

Hours after the June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling was handed down, Hollywood companies including Disney, Netflix, Comcast, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery informed their employees that they would cover travel expenses for abortion. “We are immediately expanding our healthcare benefits options to include expenses for employees and their covered family members who need to travel to access a range of medical procedures, including care for abortions, family planning and reproductive health,” WBD chief people and culture officer Adria Alpert Romm wrote in June.

The next step, according to the showrunners’ letter, is for the signatories to review the studio response alongside their legal representatives.

Read the full studio response below.

Thank you for your letter of July 28, 2022. We share your concerns around the health, safety and well-being of our dedicated employees and the people who support our productions.  We believe they should have access to safe and effective health care, and their privacy should be protected.

Each of our individually designed corporate health plans provides comprehensive health care coverage for our respective employees. We have been independently updating our respective employees – who live and work throughout the country – as plans and policies change and expand to provide reproductive care and other support now needed in states that have restricted or outlawed abortion access.

Most workers on scripted film and TV productions are covered by industry health plans that are jointly administered by union and management trustees under the collective bargaining framework.  In partnership with various industry health plan staff and the union trustees on those plans, our management trustees worked swiftly to review existing health benefits, and several of these industry health plans have already adopted amendments providing for reimbursement for travel expenses associated with securing abortion services for participants and their dependents who reside or work in states where such services cannot be lawfully obtained. We understand the other industry health plans will be considering similar changes this month.  The participants in the various industry plans have been receiving communications directly from the plans about these amendments.

We are pleased that our industry partners have quickly addressed this important issue and are committed to continuing to evaluate ways that we can best provide for our employees and workers who support our productions.

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

Signed,

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