Coalition Of 1,425 Showrunners & Directors Raises $2.5M To Help Women Gain Access To Abortions While Calling On Studios To Step Up

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A coalition of 1,425 showrunners and directors has raised $2.5 million to help women gain access to abortion services in states where they’re now illegal. Organizers of Hollywood4AbortionAccess hope to raise another $2.5 million to help women across the country – not just those working in the entertainment industry. The money will go to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Organizers are also calling on the major studios to adopt plans to “guarantee that all employees and other production workers in need of emergency reproductive healthcare can be transported expeditiously across state lines” if they live in states where abortions are now illegal in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

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Among those taking to social media to support the campaign include Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, JJ Abrams, Mindy Kaling, Judd Apatow, Damon Lindelof, Jesse Williams and Dana Fox using the hashtag @hollywood4abortionaccess.

Have a look at the tweets here.

“I’m part of a group of showrunners/creators who are raising money to help people access abortion,” Rhimes posted on the site earlier today. “Help us raise $5 million for this vital work!”

“Join me and #Hollywood4AbortionAccess in helping raise $5 million for @abortionfunds,” Apatow posted. “The National Network of Abortion Funds is a network of local abortion funds, supporting people who need access to abortion now.”

The showrunners and directors also are calling on the studios to do their part in assuring that their employees can have access to abortions. Last month, they sent letters to AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Discovery expressing their “grave concerns” about the companies’ “lack of specific production protocols” to protect their workers in anti-abortion states.

The studios responded last week, saying in a joint statement:

“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.”

The coalition, however, said that’s not good enough and has given the studios until noon on September 5 — Labor Day — to come up with a more definitive response.

“Thank you for your recent response regarding our grave concerns arising from the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” they said in identical letters sent to the studios today. “We appreciate your stated mutual concern for safeguarding employees’ health, safety, and privacy, but your assertions fall far short of a response sufficient to ensure workplace safety and prevent inevitable gender discrimination within our industry.

“Travel reimbursement, while necessary coverage, is not an adequate remedy for the denial of emergency reproductive healthcare that is an inevitable result of an abortion ban. In states where abortion is criminalized, an employee could be denied a lifesaving intervention in an ectopic pregnancy; a pregnant employee involved in an accident could be denied an X-ray on the grounds it may harm the embryo or fetus; and an employee suffering a pregnancy loss could be denied medically necessary miscarriage management. Furthermore, the current travel reimbursements do not extend to non-union employees like PAs who are not covered under a union health plan.

“Given that there are productions in abortion-hostile states right now, where protections are needed immediately, we request (companies’) answers regarding the following demands by Labor Day:

● A clear, detailed, and uniform plan of action to ensure all employees and other production workers have access to lifesaving healthcare in the case of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, placental abruption, sudden onset preeclampsia, etc. This plan should include a guarantee that all employees and other production workers in need of emergency reproductive healthcare can be transported expeditiously across state lines, to minimize the likelihood of injury or death.
● Policies and procedures that guarantee privacy around abortion access.
● Policies and procedures that guarantee job security and non-retaliation if a member of a production must take time off to travel for reproductive healthcare from states where abortion is criminalized.
● Guaranteed coverage for attorneys’ fees, court expenses, and fines for any employees or other production workers who are prosecuted for abortion-related crimes.
● The appointment of a Reproductive Health Care Officer for every production in an abortion-hostile location.

“Without such protections as the above in place, only women and people who can become pregnant will be forced to assume an unacceptable level of risk when working in states hostile to abortion. This would constitute gender and pregnancy discrimination, as it forces women and people who can become pregnant to make decisions about their employment that a man who cannot become pregnant would never have to make.

“To fulfill your stated commitment to continuing to evaluate ways to provide for employees and workers who support your productions, we also require the creation of a Reproductive Health Care Working Group.

“This Working Group should include at least one C-Suite representative from each company, representatives from industry guilds when necessary, and experts from the reproductive health and advocacy organizations with experience in these issues. Members of our coalition also stand ready to partner with you in these discussions.

“If the Working Group cannot provide specific solutions for continuing production in states where abortion is illegal and emergency reproductive healthcare may be routinely denied, such that safe and nondiscriminatory workplace conditions are ensured, the Working Group must issue a recommendation regarding whether production may continue in these states
“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our colleagues across the film and television industry in responding directly, responsibly, and promptly to these urgent threats to our employees’ health, safety, and human rights.”

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