Although indicated for weeks following the unprecedent leak of Supreme Court documents in May, today’s official ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 case that granted constitutionally protected access to reproductive healthcare — has caused an outpouring of fury. Across the entertainment industry, studios have announced plans to offer support to employees who need abortion access.
In the wake of the previously leaked documents, and now after today’s ruling, Netflix, Sony, Comcast, Paramount, Warner Bros, Amazon, and other studios and networks have announced moves to support employees who may now have to travel out of their home states to seek reproductive healthcare with travel reimbursements as part of company healthcare plans, should those states move to impose bans on abortion access. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Netflix’s plans include access of up to $US10,000 ($13,882) in travel reimbursement for “cancer treatment, transplants, gender affirming care, or abortion” during the lifetime of their employment, while an email sent to employees by Paramount CEO Bob Bakish today also affirmed the studio’s healthcare plan’s access to reimbursement if, the email reads in part, “the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your area.”
Those studios were also joined today by the Walt Disney Company, in a major move considering the studio’s recent public animosity with Florida governor Ron DeSantis over the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Variety reports that in a message to employees Friday that the studio will “remain committed to providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care” to Disney employees and family members, including travel benefits to allow them to seek “affordable coverage for receiving similar levels of care in another location,” including abortion and other reproductive healthcare needs.
Disney has major influence in Florida due to the presence of the Walt Disney World Resort — it’s one of the state’s largest employers — and had intended to relocate employees from its Parks, Experiences, and Products Division to the state by 2023, before recently announcing a postponement on that move until 2026. A delayed public response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill HB 1557 — a bill that forbids “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity,” in vaguely described “age-inappropriate” manners — led to public back and forths between Disney and DeSantis’ office, including plans by the Florida GOP to strip Disney of its special district privileges at the “Reedy Creek Improvement District” where Disney World is located. DeSantis had already previously signed a new law restricting abortions after 15 weeks into law in April 2022, which will come into affect on July 1, but has yet to indicate any further restrictions on access to in-state care in the wake of today’s ruling.
It is a good and necessary step that major companies across the board in the entertainment industry have made the move to support employees in need of what should be basic healthcare rights as the Supreme Court moves to deny them, but access to what has been a fundamental right in the United States for multiple generations of people should not have to be tied to a person’s place of employment, or their access to healthcare plans. Although many states across the U.S. have already indicated plans to restrict abortion access with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the ruling is not the end of abortion access in the country as a whole — it is, however, an end to equitable and safe access to reproductive healthcare for millions of people. People will undergo unnecessary suffering, and face life-threatening dangers with the end of Roe v. Wade that they did not have to face before today. People will die, unnecessarily, with the loss of what should be a fundamental human right.
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