Showrunners Launch $5 Million Campaign for Abortion Funds, Request Productions Designate Reproductive Health Care Officers

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In a second letter to major studios, the Hollywood collective of 1,425 showrunners, directors and creators has delineated a list of additional demands for productions operating in abortion-hostile states, including a mandated appointment of a Reproductive Health Care Officer. The new response deadline for studios — like the Walt Disney Company, Amazon Studios and more — is Labor Day, Sept. 5 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Additionally, the collective — led by women, nonbinary and trans showrunners who first raised the issue — has launched an industry-wide effort to raise $5 million for the National Network of Abortion Funds. Thus far, the seed fund has grown to $2.5 million.

In late July, more than 400 showrunners outlined a list of specific demands for major studios that included AMC Networks, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery. They were shortly joined by nearly 600 male creatives and around the same number of directors. On Aug. 10, the studios sent in a joint response that was decried by organizations such as Women in Film for ignoring certain stipulations like ceasing donations to anti-abortion politicians.

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The second letter, obtained by TheWrap, begins with a note of gratitude for the response, but adds that the “assertions fall far short of a response sufficient to ensure workplace safety and prevent inevitable gender discrimination within our industry.” Some of the outlined requests include the safeguarding of employees’ privacy and funding for legal fees.

“Travel reimbursement, while necessary coverage, is not an adequate remedy for the denial of emergency reproductive healthcare that is an inevitable result of an abortion ban,” the letter continues. “In states where abortion is criminalized, an employee could be denied a lifesaving intervention in an ectopic pregnancy; a pregnant employee involved in an accident could be denied an X-ray on the grounds it may harm the embryo or fetus; and an employee suffering a pregnancy loss could be denied medically-necessary miscarriage management. Furthermore, the current travel reimbursements do not extend to non-union employees like PAs who are not covered under a union health plan.”

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The listed stipulations are as follows:

  • A clear, detailed, and uniform plan of action to ensure all employees and other production workers have access to lifesaving healthcare in the case of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, placental abruption, sudden onset preeclampsia, etc. This plan should include a guarantee that all employees and other production workers in need of emergency reproductive healthcare can be transported expeditiously across state lines, to minimize the likelihood of injury or death.

  • Policies and procedures that guarantee privacy around abortion access.

  • Policies and procedures that guarantee job security and non-retaliation if a member of a production must take time off to travel for reproductive healthcare from states where abortion is criminalized.

  • Guaranteed coverage for attorneys’ fees, court expenses, and fines for any employees or other production workers who are prosecuted for abortion-related crimes.

  • The appointment of a Reproductive Health Care Officer for every production in an abortion-hostile location.

“Without such protections as the above in place, only women and people who can become pregnant will be forced to assume an unacceptable level of risk when working in states hostile to abortion,” the letter states. “This would constitute gender and pregnancy discrimination, as it forces women and people who can become pregnant to make decisions about their employment that a man who cannot become pregnant would never have to make.”

Additionally, the letter calls for the creation of a Reproductive Health Care Working Group, which will partner with the coalition and comprise at “least one C-Suite representative from each company (appointed by 11:59pm PST September 5, 2022), representatives from industry guilds when necessary, and experts from the reproductive health and advocacy organizations with experience in these issues.” The aim of the Working Group will be to make recommendations based on whether productions may continue in abortion-hostile states where the group “cannot provide specific solutions” for pregnant employees.

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our colleagues across the film and television industry in responding directly, responsibly, and promptly to these urgent threats to our employees’ health, safety, and human rights,” the letter concludes.

Notably, the new letter does not include a stipulation doubling down on the call for companies to end donations to candidates and political action committees that are anti-abortion. Per Variety, the request was taken out following executive consultation and will instead be supplemented by a “watchdog group” that will monitor these contributions. TheWrap has reached out for comment on this matter.

Separate of the initiative directed at major studios and their executives, the collective went public with a fundraising campaign for NNAF. The likes of J.J. Abrams, Mindy Kaling, Damon Lindelof, Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, Jesse Williams, Dana Fox and more have posted about the effort, under the hashtag #hollywood4abortionaccess. “Until Dobbs falls,” Lindelof wrote on Instagram, referencing the Supreme Court decision that overturned 1973’s Roe v. Wade.

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