Updated, June 24, 12:00pm ET: Walt Disney Corporation has announced that they will cover travel expenses for employees in banned states who are seeking an abortion. Disney communicated with its employees on Friday following the news that the company would provide comprehensive access to reproductive healthcare. Those employees unable to access care in one location will receive coverage for similar levels of care elsewhere. The benefit also covers family planning and pregnancy-related decisions.
The company previously came under fire for financially supporting right-wing politicians who wrote the “Don’t Say Gay” Florida bill, which was passed earlier this year. Disney later issued a statement that the bill, which prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in Florida primary schools., should never have been signed into law.
Former Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger previously told Reuters in 2019 that it would be “very difficult” to continue production in Georgia and other states with restrictive abortion laws or bans. Under current CEO Bob Chapek, it is unclear if Disney will follow the same standards. There has been no word yet if production companies will pull out of anti-abortion states.
Paramount additionally issued a memo voicing financial support for employees seeking an abortion. Netflix, Comcast, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Sony all similarly issued statements expanding employee healthcare.
Original, May 4: Following the news of a leaked draft opinion on May 2 indicating that the Supreme Court will overturn 1973’s Roe v. Wade, several leading film industry titans have vowed to financially support employee travel to provide healthcare for women.
On May 4, United Talent Agency announced it would reimburse employees for travel expenses related to reproductive health services if not available in their state of residence, as Variety reported. UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer wrote that “several states have already introduced restrictive legislation, and the draft Supreme Court ruling leaked yesterday, if it comes to pass, could make abortion illegal in more than half of the country.”
Amazon similarly shared that staffers will be reimbursed up to $4,000 in travel expenses for non-life-threatening medical treatments that include abortion. A message sent to employees (via Reuters) said the new healthcare benefit would apply if an operation could not be performed within 100 miles of their residence. The benefit goes into effect in January 2023.
Lyft and Uber previously waived legal fees for drivers sued under Texas’ new law limiting access to abortions, which went into effect last September.
Politico posted the draft penned by Justice Alito that argued Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start” to make female bodily autonomy legal on the federal level. The memo continued, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
President Biden responded to the Supreme Court draft opinion, issuing a formal written address demanding that the “basic fairness” of Roe v. Wade be upheld.
More privately held companies are set to follow with incentives to provide basic healthcare to female employees.
Read the full UTA memo below.
As threats against women’s reproductive rights grow, we’re introducing an important new benefit. Going forward, UTA will reimburse our colleagues for travel expenses related to receiving women’s reproductive health services that are not accessible in their state of residence.
We’re doing this to support the right to choose that has been a bedrock of settled law for almost half a century. Several states have already introduced restrictive legislation, and the draft Supreme Court ruling leaked yesterday, if it comes to pass, could make abortion illegal in more than half of the country.
UTA has a long history of giving generously through our Foundation to organizations that support women’s reproductive health care, which we will continue to prioritize. Also, in the coming weeks, the Foundation, DEI and WIG will be providing educational resources, programming, and opportunities for discussion. For more details on this new healthcare benefit, please reach out to HR.