Studios Inch Forward on Abortion Protection, Showrunner Group Reports

With no public response from the studios by deadline, the coalition says it’s hoping to get something done behind the scenes

A coalition of showrunners and other creative heads mobilizing for abortion safety in the entertainment industry released a statement on their progress Friday. Despite their Labor Day deadline having passed without a public response, the group says individual studios are working with them behind the scenes to move forward on abortion protections for employees, Variety reports.

“Our Coalition began this effort to ensure that the studios stepped up to protect women and people who can get pregnant who work on productions in states where abortion is now illegal and being criminalized,” the group said. “While there is still much work to be done, we can share that all nine studios we contacted (Amazon, AMC, Apple TV+, CBS/Paramount, Disney, Lionsgate, NBCU, Netflix and Warner Brothers Discovery) are engaging directly and individually with us to address the immediate need for safety, privacy and legal protections for their employees.”

The unnamed coalition, which numbers nearly 1,500 including Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti, Mindy Kaling, Damon Lindelof, Elizabeth Meriwether, and Ava DuVernay, has been working since July to secure protections for women and people who can get pregnant who are working in states that have criminalized abortion. Their initial list of demands, which was sent to studios on July 28, was answered collectively via the Motion Picture Association; the response was deemed “patronizing” by one anonymous member of the coalition, who added, “I think we were pretty disappointed as a group.”

The group then sent a second letter to studios, which included a request for a response by Labor Day. That reply remains to be seen, the group said, but it disclosed that “a few companies are already exploring ways to implement a 24-hour Reproductive Health Safety Hotline for productions in abortion-hostile states.”

The coalition also disclosed that it’s raised nearly $3 million for the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Disney was among the earliest companies to react to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June by promising to cover travel expenses for Mouse Housers who wanted abortion care. In an August 15 response, the coalition explained that promises to reimburse employees for travel out of state for an abortion was “not an adequate remedy for the denial of emergency reproductive healthcare that is an inevitable result of an abortion ban.”

The group called for the creation of a Reproductive Health Care Working Group, and issued a work-stoppage threat if adequate protections were not implemented: “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.”

Three days earlier, the group praised the Lionsgate response in a statement to Variety: “Thank you, Lionsgate, for being the only studio who treated this issue with the respect and urgency it deserves. There’s still work to be done, but this is a step in the right direction. All studios have the power to prioritize their workers’ reproductive health care rights. More to come.”

Moving forward, the showrunners say in their statement Friday, “We will continue to monitor the progress of these studios and will hold them accountable to identify and implement solutions for the issues which have yet to be addressed.”

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