TV writers ask studios for greater abortion protections

·2 min read
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Friday, March 18, 2022 in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

A group of 411 writers and showrunners has written to leading studios including Walt Disney and Netflix to raise concerns about protections for pregnant creators on their productions after a Supreme Court decision to end a constitutional right to abortion.

The writers, who include Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Marta Kauffman and Lena Waithe, asked the studios to provide plans to support pregnant workers on the studios' productions in states where abortion care has been limited since the court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, according to the letter seen by The Times.

The group is asking for the studios to detail what protocols they have to support such workers in terms of medical care, as well as legal protections. They are also seeking commitments to stop political donations to antiabortion political groups and candidates.

"We have grave concerns about the lack of specific production protocols in place to protect those at work for Netflix in anti-abortion states," stated the letter, which was first reported by Variety. "Currently, any pregnant person working on one of your productions in states that have criminalized abortion does so at great risk."

The letter highlights concerns among Hollywood workers who could find themselves working in states that may provide lucrative financial incentives for the studios but now ban abortion. Many states like Georgia, where a six-week abortion ban took effect in recent weeks, are huge hubs for filmmaking.

"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," the writers said in their letter.

Studios that received the letter, which was sent to Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and NBC Universal, among others, declined to comment.

Hollywood companies have faced growing pressure to respond in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Disney this week changed Hulu’s policy on accepting issue-based political advertising, following a backlash from Democrats after the streaming service rejected commercials about abortion and guns.

In June, studios including Disney and Netflix, and some unions including SAG-AFTRA, said they would reimburse travel costs for full-time employees who were working in states where abortion or pregnancy care was limited as a result of the Supreme Court ruling.

The writers, however, are pushing for greater protections for workers on their film and TV productions. They have called on the studios to detail safety plans in the next 10 days, and to assess if production is safe for pregnant writers.

Earlier this month, the healthcare plans for the Directors Guild of America extended abortion care coverage to the dependents of its members.

Times staff writers Yvonne Villarreal, Wendy Lee and Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.