The United States Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision Roe vs. Wade Friday’s decision, leaving abortion rights to individual states and leaving many wondering what happens next. Many entertainment companies have assured their employees that they will stand with their ranks in defense of bodily autonomy, despite recent rulings.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote on Friday that top companies like Disney, Paramount, Comcast, Netflix, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with agencies like WME, CAA and UTA, have sent memos to staff regarding their health policies. The common thread is travel reimbursement for people who find themselves forced to leave their country of origin for an abortion.
Netflix maintains a travel reimbursement allowance totaling $10,000 for its full-time U.S. employees for medical issues such as cancer treatments, transplants, gender-affirming care, and abortion. Disney told staff that travel is covered for those who cannot access care in their state, including pregnancy-related decisions.
CEO of Paramounts Bob Bakich sent a note noting the country’s moment of deep uncertainty, but wanted to reassure its employees. [W]We want to be very clear about what won’t change at Paramount, his memo continued, before outlining their benefits policy, which included travel reimbursements if the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your region.
The human resources department of Warner Bros. Discovery wrote: [g]given the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade and the likely elimination of access to abortion in some states, we are immediately expanding our health care benefit options to include expenses for employees and covered family members who must travel to access a range of medical procedures, including care for abortions, family planning and reproductive health.
Roger LynchCond Nast CEO, owner VF and other publications like vogue, Wired, Architectural Summary, the new yorkerand QG called the Supreme Court’s decision a crushing blow to reproductive rights that have been protected for nearly half a century, and also announced enhancements to our U.S. health benefits to help covered employees and their covered dependents to obtain access to reproductive care, regardless of their place of residence.
As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, areas with so-called trigger laws have already found themselves with new rules in place. The State of Missouri (population: 6.1 million), which already had very restrictive laws, was first to announce that almost all abortions are effectively prohibited.
A big question mark is Florida (population: 21.7 million) where Disney, of course, maintains a large presence. As of July 1, a new law will come into force which prohibits abortion after 15 weeks. (It currently sits at 24 weeks.) This change, however, is being challenged by two lawsuits, one from Planned Parenthood, the other from Congregation LDor Va-Dora Jewish synagogue arguing that the restriction violates religious freedom.
Things are worse in Georgia (population: 10.8 million), where Disneys Marvel has a large production facility. With Roe vs. Wade overturned, it is believed that a ban on abortion after six weeks, which was momentarily struck in 2020, will probably be become law. Individual cases in Georgia can get tricky, as many of those working on projects that ultimately fall under the Disney umbrella could very well be contracted by smaller companies that may not have the same refund policies. .
Another issue for companies is liability if the laws become even stricter. In Texas (population: 29 millionmore than the whole continent Australia) any citizen can sue someone (inside or outside the state) if he help and encourage someone to have an abortion there. Although the law is extremely nebulous and has yet to be tested, Missouri lawmakers have considered going one more, and making it illegal to help someone even if that person leaves the state. The law seems absurd, but recent events have shown that anything is possible.
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