Studios respond to letter requesting abortion protection, don’t mention political donations

At the end of July, more than 400 female TV creators, showrunners, and head writers penned an open letter to TV studios and executives requesting abortion protections for staff in anti-abortion states. The letter requested that the companies review and share their plan for care and protection for employees, including: travel subsidies and protecting medical privacy, the scope of medical care, criminal and civil legal protection, and a cessation of political donations to anti-abortion candidates and PACs. Now, most of the studios have responded in a joint letter published on Wednesday.

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.”

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 noted to their employees that they already covered or would now 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.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

The studio response was (a) late and (b) pretty vague, I think. It says they are swiftly reviewing and updating industry health plans and will continue to do so, refers to unions and collective bargaining, and specifically references travel reimbursements for participants and their dependents who live and work in anti-abortion states. As noted in the THR article, the companies have already pretty much said the stuff about the travel reimbursements. That’s probably because travel reimbursements are low-hanging fruit: easy enough to talk about and get on board with in theory, but in practice might be more difficult to implement. Travel reimbursements are pretty much the bare minimum and the showrunner letter asked for far more details than just that assurance. It’s a lot of talk about support and protection, but it’s unclear how far that will extend. Notably absent? Lionsgate, apparently. AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Discovery all signed the joint response. Also, very notably absent: any mention of cessation of political donations to anti-abortion PACS and candidates. Hm.

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13 Responses to “Studios respond to letter requesting abortion protection, don’t mention political donations”

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  1. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Corporations have no moral compass nor a soul. And yet they are “people” under the law/Citizens United. Ergo, they must be Republicans.

    Next step is for showrunners to put their own money where their mouths are and refuse to film in those states, period. They can also demand the studios and networks no longer donate to anti-choice candidates, but that’s a pipe dream and against companies’ bottom lines, since all they do is hedge their bets like anyone who plays the stock market, and short laws and candidates in favor of the almighty dollah. Most showrunners are wealthy white people, so we’ll see if their outrage is actually outraged enough to give up their economic advantage and bother their white privilege in support of the greater good. Not holding my breath on that front either.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Yes. Hollywood needs to er pull out of all projects in Gilead-America.

    • Lucy says:

      Yes, most (definitely not all) showrunners are wealthy white people. That doesn’t mean they don’t care about the people who work on their projects.

      But even if they didn’t care on a human level, literally 100% of showrunners care about avoiding bad press for their projects. That in and of itself creates a powerful incentive to pull projects out of the forced-birth states, because “Cinematographer dies of untreated ectopic pregnancy on set of Project X” is a Variety headline that any sane showrunner will bend heaven and earth to avoid.

    • Bisynaptic says:


  2. Lolo86lf says:

    Matthew 19:24: “I’ll say it again-it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Wealthy people most of the time if not always will choose money over anything else. Their main purpose in life is to make a profit and they won’t let decency and good principles get in their way. This post is a classic example where the studios are not going to do the decent thing because it will hurt their bottom line.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Why you gotta be dropping Bible quotes that challenge the American narrative of capitalist Jesus?

      • Lolo86lf says:

        I rarely use bible quotes to agree with a point being discussed because I am not a religious person. I just thought the quote was right on that’s all.

      • TwinFalls says:

        Lol @ capitalist Jesus.

  3. souperkay says:

    Ok but that Farm Rio dress on Rachel is amazing & their other dresses aren’t bad either.

  4. AC says:

    It needs to be all or nothing

  5. Colby says:

    Until corporations pull offices/production from states with anti-abortion laws, anything they say is just noise.

  6. ClaireB says:

    The fact that we have to beg corporations to protect our rights for us tells us who actually controls our society.

    Thanks for including Rachel Bloom’s Instagram. I loved Crazy Ex Girlfriend and am oddly grateful to her for posting her “undergirding” pic so we can see all the work underneath the look!

  7. Amanda says:

    Lionsgate is Canadian and fillms most of their work out of their studios in Vancouver even though they have US offices. Yes they should make a statement, especially about US productions, but no one is at risk for not getting an abortion in British Columbia, even folks from out of province.