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Studios Ignore Showrunners' Specific Demands for Abortion Safety Protocols

The studios responded to showrunners' demands with a collective letter, just shy of the 10-day deadline.
  • Protestors outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the Roe v. Wade verdict (Photo: ABC News)
    Protestors outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the Roe v. Wade verdict (Photo: ABC News)

    After more than 1,000 television showrunners called for specific abortion protocols be put in place for employees at major studios, those studios finally sent a collective response on Wednesday night that largely ignored their specific demands.

    Back in July, over 400 TV creators and showrunners sent a letter to top-level executives at Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBC Universal, Apple, and other companies demanding specific protocols to protect pregnant employees in states where abortion is banned.

    Their demands were as follows: that media companies outline specific protections for employees working in states that have outlawed abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade; that they provide protocols for medical care for "ectopic pregnancies and other pregnancy complications that require medical treatment," as well as "indemnification and defense against liability, for any member of a production who facilitates ... protocols or provides ... policy information and guidelines to an employee seeking an abortion."

    The showrunners also asked companies to "pledge to discontinue all political donations to anti-abortion candidates and political action committees immediately."

    Following the first letter, which was sent on July 28 and signed by all women, 594 men signed their own letter in support. The studios were given 10 days from the receipt of the first letter to send their response, though the letter did not state what would happen if the companies didn't comply with the demands.

    On Wednesday night, just short of the deadline, studios sent a collective response. However, while Lionsgate was one of the studios that received the original letter, it did not sign the response letter.

    The response letter failed to address any of the specific demands, and instead defers to the health plans of the individual unions, saying, "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 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," the studios added. "We look forward to working with you to continue to make great content for our audiences around the world."

    The letter was signed by AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Discovery.

    After the studios' response was released, Deadline spoke to some of the signees of the original letter who chose to remain anonymous. "It's an insult, plain to see," one signee said. "It's indicative of what's truly important to them, which isn't us, our safety or rights."

    Another signee added that the group is discussing taking further action.

    A male signee also told Deadline, "Hollywood needs to send a message of unwavering support to American women. Abortion banning states need to know that support isn't just moral, but financial if need be. And if the industry needs to, it needs to walk away from tax credits and production in those states."

    Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.

    TOPICS: abortion, AMC Networks, Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon Studios, Disney, NBCUniversal International, Paramount, Roe v. Wade, Warner Bros. Discovery