Hollywood companies vow to pay travel costs for abortions


Protesters walk past a mural reading "there's always hope" during a demonstration in downtown Los Angeles. Entertainment companies and the SAG-AFTRA union vowed to reimburse travel to other states for employees in areas where abortion and other pregnancy care is limited by the decision. Photo: AFP

Walt Disney Co., Netflix, Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures are among the Hollywood companies that are stepping in to help employees who will need to travel for abortion care in the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision last Friday.

The entertainment companies - and the SAG-AFTRA union, which represents performers and broadcasters - vowed that they would reimburse travel to other states for employees in areas where abortion and other pregnancy care is limited by the decision. Walt Disney told employees Friday it recognised the impact of the ruling.

"We remain committed to providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care for all of our employees, cast members and their families, including family planning and reproductive care, no matter where they live," the company told its employees in an internal memo. Disney employees will receive a travel benefit to cover family planning "including pregnancy-related decisions," it said.

While several entertainment companies are headquartered in Southern California, many have offices and production facilities across the country. States like Georgia have become huge hubs for film and TV production but have also presented challenges to employers when the state has considered restricting abortion.

Netflix, which is headquartered in Los Gatos, California, is also giving a travel reimbursement coverage for full-time US employees and their dependents who need to travel for care including abortion. It's a US$10,000 (RM44,000) lifetime allowance per employee or their dependents per service, according to a Netflix spokesperson.

Los Angeles-based Paramount Pictures, a division of ViacomCBS, also wrote to employees Friday to alert them to the support the company can offer.

"Across the country, we have entered a moment of profound uncertainty - from a legal and a policy perspective, as states pursue different paths regarding reproductive rights, but also on a personal level, as we try to understand what services will be accessible, when, where, and to whom," Paramount Pictures told staffers Friday.

"Paramount will support - as we always have - the choices our employees make about their own health care. This includes the reproductive health and family-building benefits."

Its company-sponsored health insurance includes coverage for birth control, elective abortion care, miscarriage care and travel expenses for services, such as abortion, that are prohibited in that employee's area, the company said.

Sony Pictures, based in Culver City, said it believes employees and their dependents should have equal access to healthcare and medical services, including reproductive healthcare, regardless of their location.

"For Sony Pictures Entertainment employees in the United States, our medical plans through Aetna provide comprehensive care, including reimbursement for travel if it is required to access healthcare services available under our plans."

SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood's biggest union, told its staff on Friday it adopted a policy to support its employees in states that restrict abortion access by paying for travel to regions that can provide those services.

"We will continue to fight to ensure the overwhelming majority voice of the people is heard in state and federal legislative bodies," SAG-AFTRA said in a statement Friday.

"We have the collective power to make certain today's decision does not overcome the will of the people. SAG-AFTRA will fight to protect women's right to choice and self-determination that has been recognised for decades." - dpa

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abortion , hollywood , women , pregnancy , health


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