AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Discovery have responded to letters written and signed by nearly 1,500 writers and directors including 411 female, trans and non-binary TV creators and showrunners, 594 of their male counterparts, and almost 400 directors.
The group demanded that AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Lionsgate outline a written policy of their current abortion safety plan in response to June 24 Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The demands were spurred by the conservatively-led Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively ending federal protections for abortion access.
On July 28, 2022 letters were sent out to the aforementioned studios and Variety obtained and shared a copy sent out to Netflix which read:
We, the undersigned, are 411 show creators, showrunners and head writers who currently work across every network and streaming platform in the industry today, including those controlled by Netflix.
We have grave concerns about the lack of specific production protocols in place to protect those at work for Netflix in anti-abortion states.
It is unacceptable to ask any person to choose between their human rights and their employment. This situation raises basic matters of equality, health, and safety in the workplace. Many of us would not have the careers and families we have today if we had not been granted the freedom to choose what was best for ourselves. We are committed, as a group, to protecting our fundamental human rights and those of our colleagues.
Currently, any pregnant person working on one of your productions in states that have criminalized abortion does so at great risk. It is important that Netflix understands these risks and has comprehensive solutions in place. The purpose of this letter is to review your current safety protocols and protections on this vital matter to determine whether or not we will continue to work in these high risk environments.
Within ten business days of today we require review of your current abortion safety plan detailing Netflix’s policies and processes to ensure our safety, protect our health and defend our human rights. We expect that the specifics of your current plan address this emergency in full, including but not limited to:
● Published policies and procedures to provide an abortion travel subsidy for employees of your productions including specific information on how the employee’s medical privacy will be safeguarded.
● Protocols outlining the scope of medical care for employees of your productions, including ectopic pregnancies and other pregnancy complications that require medical treatment via abortion while working for Netflix.
● Policy regarding criminal and civil legal protection, including indemnification and defense against liability, for any member of a production who facilitates Netflix’s protocols or provides Netflix’s policy information and guidelines to an employee seeking an abortion.
● Pledge to discontinue all political donations to anti-abortion candidates and political action committees immediately.
As productions are currently in progress in states where abortion is illegal or pending criminalization, your immediate written response is required and expected within ten business days of July 28th, 2022. We also welcome the opportunity to review the written response with your company representatives for additional context should you wish. Our review will be conducted by the undersigned and our legal representatives.
The original letter was signed by creators, showrunners and head writers who included Pamela Adlon, Bisha K. Ali, Rachel Bloom, Yvette Bowser, Mara Brock Akil, Gloria Calderon Kellett, Ilene Chaiken, Diablo Cody, Michelle Dean, Ava DuVernay, Misha Green, Katori Hall, Jenny Han, Chelsea Handler, Leslye Headland, Sian Heder, Soo Hugh, Our Lady J, Mindy Kaling, Angela Kang, Marta Kauffman, Zoe Kazan, Nahnatchka Khan, Michelle King, Jenji Kohan, Jenni Konner, Adele Lim, Natasha Lyonne, Marti Noxon, Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Julie Plec, Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes, Amber Ruffin, Marja-Lewis Ryan, Tanya Saracho, Stephanie Savage, Amy Schumer, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Sierra Teller Ornelas, Robin Thede, Krista Vernoff, Lilly Wachowski, Lena Waithe and Lulu Wang.
A few days later, 594 male showrunners in the industry, including Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams, Donald Glover, Seth MacFarlane, Ryan Murphy, and Taika Waititi wrote and signed their own letter, affirming that they stand in solidarity with their female, trans and non-binary counterparts which read,
“WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH OUR FEMALE, TRANS & NON-BINARY SHOWRUNNER COLLEAGUES
In demanding a coordinated and timely response from our employers regarding the imminent workplace-safety crisis created by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Abortion access doesn’t only affect people who can become pregnant. It affects us all.
A few days ago, The Hollywood Reporter shared that an additional letter was written and signed by almost 400 directors including Alex Gibney, Alice Wu, Barry Jenkins, Catherine Hardwicke, Gina Prince-Bythewood, James Ponsoldt, Joey Soloway, Judd Apatow, Karyn Kusama, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Marc Webb, Matthew A. Cherry, Melina Matsoukas, Morgan Neville and Stephen Daldry which read,
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with our writer/creator colleagues in demanding a coordinated and timely response from our employers regarding the imminent workplace-safety crisis created by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Abortion access doesn’t only affect people who can become pregnant. It affects us all.
August 10 marked the expected deadline to respond and all studios except Lionsgate responded with a joint letter, signed by AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Discovery which was shared by THR and read,
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.
Lionsgate was left out of the joint letter and it is unknown if they intend to address this issue themselves separately, or if they intend to ignore the demands and signatures of almost 1500 showrunners, writers and directors who are concerned about the health and well-being of AFAB individuals within the industry impacted by the Supreme Court’s recent decision.