Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes Among 400 Female TV Writers Calling On Major Studios for Deeper Safety Protocols in Anti-Abortion States

Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes Among 400 Female TV Writers Calling On Major Studios for Deeper Safety Protocols in Anti-Abortion States

Issa Rae, left; Shonda Rhimes.

On Thursday, over 400 female TV writers, showrunners and creatives joined together to urge major entertainment studios like Netflix, Disney, Apple, Warner Bros. and more to expand safety protocols for pregnant women in anti-abortion states.

According to Variety, the letter is specifically seeking written policies for how the companies plan to “subsidize employees’ travel to obtain abortions, as well as how employee privacy will be protected. They want protocols for medical care for ectopic pregnancies and other pregnancy complications that require medical treatment.” The collective is also demanding “criminal and civil indemnification for anyone helping an employee obtain an abortion.” Lastly, they’re asking for those companies to stop “all political donations to anti-abortion candidates and political action committees immediately.” In addition to the aforementioned places that received the letter, additional studios include NBC Universal, Paramount, Amazon, Lionsgate, AMC, and Discovery.

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Signees include notable Black TV figures such as Ava DuVernay, Ashley Nicole Black, Yvette Bowser, Mara Brock Akil, Karin Gist Brown, Misha Green, Katori Hall, Regina Hicks, Erika L. Johnson, Courtney A. Kemp, Kasi Lemmons, Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Tracy Oliver, Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes, Amber Ruffin, Janine Sherman Barrois, Robin Thede, Lena Waithe and more.

The companies have 10 days from the receipt of the letter to take action. There’s no word yet on what will happen if they don’t comply.

The letter, in it’s entirety, is as follows:

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.

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