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Top TV Writers Demand Safety Protocols in Anti-Abortion States

On Thursday morning, a collective of more than 400 television creators and showrunners sent a letter to top-level executives at Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBC Universal, Apple and more, demanding specific protocols to protect pregnant employees in states where abortion is outlawed.

The letter, obtained by Variety, is signed by A-list talent such as Shonda Rhimes, Issa Rae, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Natasha Lyonne, Ava DuVernay and many more. It puts the US’s biggest content creators on notice that the companies need to outline specific protections for those working in states that have outlawed abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

“It is unacceptable to ask any person to choose between their human rights and their employment,” the letter reads in part.

The letter escalates the vexed issue of what companies such as Netflix and Disney should do with productions in states with anti-abortion laws that were triggered by Dobbs, such as Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. The writers are demanding published policies for how the companies will 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.” They’re demanding criminal and civil compensation for anyone helping an employee obtain an abortion.

And they want all of the companies to stop “all political donations to anti-abortion candidates and political action committees immediately.”

The writers are demanding written responses from the companies within 10 days of July 28, when the letters were sent out. The letter stopped short of saying what will happen if these companies don’t comply with the demands, but any potential boycotts from top talent would surely spell disaster.

Several studies, led by Netflix, said in 2019 that they would reconsider filming in Georgia — the leading state for film tax incentives — if the state’s “heartbeat” abortion ban took effect. Citing the Dobbs ruling, a federal appeals court last week lifted the injunction against the law. So far, the studies have said only that they would reimburse travel expenses for employees forced to leave the state to obtain an abortion.

The full letter — this particular one is to Netflix — and its signatories is below. The letter was also sent to Paramount, Lionsgate, Amazon and AMC.

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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 serious 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.

signed,

Megan Abbott
Diane Ademu John
Ali Adler
pamela adlon
abby jayi
Desiree Akhavan
Zakiyyah Alexander
Bisha K Ali
Gabrielle Allen
Kayla Alpert
Sophia Alvarez
Jane Anderson
Lucia Aniello
amy aniobi
Valerie Armstrong
Nicole Jefferson Asher
Michelle Ashford
Liz Astrof
Meredith Averill
Rachel Axler
Annie Baker
Gemma Baker
Jenna Bans
Carol Barbee
Sarah Bareilles
Tanya Barfield
kate barnow
Kristen Bartlett
vanessa bayer
Nichole Beattie
Monica Beletski
Lake Bell
Shaz Bennett
eleanor bergstein
Julia Bicknell
jennifer bicks
Jocelyn Bioh
Ashley Nicole Black
Amy Bloom
Rachel Bloom
Andrea Thornton Bolden
Kathryn Borel
Hannah Bos
Rebecca Boss
Yvette Bowser
Christine Boylan
Patricia Breen
kelli breslin
Corinne Brinkerhoff
Mara Brock Akil
Aline Brosh McKenna
Jess Brownell
Julia Brownell
Carrie Brownstein
Gemma Burgess
Sarah Burgess
Lila Byock
Jennifer Caccio
Gloria Calderon Kellett
Wendy Calhoun
Sheila Callaghan
dana bald
Kat Candler
Kay Cannon
Erin Cardillo
Bridget Carpenter
charise castro smith
Ilene Chaiken
Yahlin Chang
Hailey Chavez
Semi Chellas
Cindy Chupack
Zoanne Clack
Elizabeth Clark
maisha closson
Devil Cody
Anne Cofell Saunders
Leila Cohan
Emily Cook
akela cooper
Fernanda Coppel
Elizabeth Craft
Jennifer Crittenden
Aida Mashaka Croal
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Whitney Cummings
alexandra cunningham
michelle dean
Jamie Denbo
Chelsea Devantez
Lydia Diamond
Marnie Dickens
Cara DiPaolo
katie dippold
Kiley Donovan
Savannah Doley
Bash Doran
karey dornetto
Caroline Dries
Ariel Dumas
Lena Dunham
Cirocco Dunlap
Ava DuVernay
Laura Eason
Grace Edwards
Kerry Erin
Erin Erlich
Diane English
Anya Epstein
Maya Erskin
Jane Spencer
Bridget Everett
Sarah Fain
Gina Fattore
Halley Feiffer
liz feldman
Nancy Fitchman
Hannah Fidell
Debra J Fisher
Lang Fisher
Anna Fishk
Jennifer Flackett
Liz Flahive
stephanie folsom
leah fong
Claudia Forestieri
Dana Fox
Emily Fox
anna fricke
Hanna Friedman
Jenna Friedman
Liz Friedman
Maggie Friedmann
Kelly Galuska
Sera Gamble
Jessica Gao
daisy gardner
Valentina Garza
Leila Gerstein
Melissa James Gibson
Gina Gionfriddo
Karin Gist-Brown
Grace Glassmeyer
Jessica Goldberg
Sarah Goldfinger
Emily Gordon
Philippa Goslett
Susannah Grant
Tash Gray
Misha Green
Kathy Greenberg
Sarah Gubbins
Lauren Gussis
Jenny Hagel
Barbara Hall
Katori Hall
Jenny Han
Lisa Hanawalt
Chelsea Handler
Liz Hannah
Alma Har’el
Amy B Harris
Dee Harris-Lawrence
Becky Hartmann Edwards
Leslye Headland
sian heder
Eileen Heiser
Liz Heldens
DeAnn Heline
Cody Heller
Emily Heller
Felicia D Henderson
Crystal Henry
Tara Hermann
Sarah Hess
regina-hicks
Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
winnie holzman
AM Homes
Karen Leigh Hopkins
Shannon M Houston
Melinda Hsu Taylor
soo hugh
Darlene Hunt
Lauren Jungerich
Our Lady J
abby jacobson
Casey Johnson
Erika L Johnson
joanna johnson
Kathleen Jordan
Alexa Junge
Mindy Kalling
Laeta Kalogridis
angela kang
Kourtney Kang
Jenn Kai
Martha Kaufmann
Zoë Kazan
Courtney A Kemp
Nahnatchka Khan
callie kouri
Claire Kiechel
Marlene King
Michelle King
Corinne Kingsbury
Laura Kittrell
julie klausner
Jenny Klein
Jessie Klein
Erica Shelton Kodish
Jenji Kohan
Anna Konkle
Jenni Konner
liz kruger
Sarah Kucserka
Bridget Kyle
Stephanie Laing
Nogue Landau
amanda lasher
Sheila Lawrence
Janet Leahy
Christine Lee
young jean lee
Lauren LeFranc
Kasi Lemmons
Jennifer Levin
Chris Levinson
Debbie Liebling
adele lim
Erica Lipez
amy lipman
Crystal Liu
Kari Lizer
Attica Locke
Melissa London Hilfers
Rachel Caris Love
Jenny Lumet
Ashley Lyle
natasha lyonne
Monica Macer
Marguerite MacIntyre
Carina Adly MacKenzie
Jhoni Marchinko
meg marinis
Julie Martin
Happy Marye
Britt Matt
vanessa mccarthy
Abby McEnany
shauna mcgarry
Colleen McGuinness
Alexandra McNally
Carol Mendelson
Carly Mensch
Wendy Mericle
Elizabeth Merwether
Erica Messier
Molly Smith Metzler
Allison Miller
Rina Mimoun
Arika Lisanne Mittman
Becky Fashion
Raamla Mohamed
Lizzie Molyneux
Wendy Molyneux
Jaclyn Moore
Lauren Morelli
LaToya Morgan
Dominique Morisseau
Maggie Mull
michele mulroney
Janine Nabers
Margaret Nagle
Aunt Neapolitan
Danielle Nathanson
Jessie Nelson
Kristin Newman
Lynn Nottage
Martin Noxon
Alissa Nutting
Jamie O’Brien
Jessica O’Toole
Dr. Sonya Odamtten
Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Silvia Olivas
Tracy Oliver
Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Monica Owusu-Breen
Jan Oxenberg
Carolina Paiz
michelle paradise
sallie patrick
Ilana Pena
KC Perry
JJ Philbin
julie plect
daria polatin
Tracy Poust
Channing Powell
Kate Purdy
Jessica Queller
Issa Rae
Lisa Randolph
Ellen Rapport
Robia Rashid
Joan Rater
Jacquelyn Reingold
Nicki Renna
Dara Renik
Shonda Rhimes
Katie Rich
Erica Rivinoja
Katie Robbins
kate robin
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
marquita robinson
Dailyn Rodriguez
jessie rosen
Melissa Rosenberg
Kim Rosenstock
Sharyn Rothstein
Julie Rottenberg
Amber Ruffin
Marja-Lewis Ryan
Tammy Sagher
Erica Saleh
Danielle Sanchez-Witzel
tanya saracho
stephanie savage
lorene scafaria
Beth Schacter
Jack Schaeffer
robin schiff
holly schlesinger
Sarah Schneider
Ali Schouten Seeks
Heidi Schreck
Amy Schumer
Jennifer Schuur
Beth Schwartz
Nell Scovell
Sarah Gertrude Shapiro
frankie shaw
Frog Shepard
Janine Sherman Barrois
Amy Sherman-Palladino
april shih
Keto Shimizu
Rachel Shukert
Katie Silverman
Emily Silver
Allison Silverman
Randi Mayem Singer
Francesca Sloan
Alena Smith
Nora Smith
nicole snyder
Jennie Snyder Urman
Holly Sorensen
rachel specter
Nichelle Tramble Spellman
emily spivey
Caissie St Onge
Jen Statsky
KJ Steinberg
dana stevens
Christy Stratton
South Veena
robin swicord
Maurissa Tancharoen
Desta Tedros Reff
Sierra Teller Ornelas
Robin Thede
betty thomas
Sarah Thompson
Merritt Tierce
liz tigelaar
Stacy Traub
Sarah Treem
Liz Tuccillo
Rachel Tucker
karyn usher
Noelle Valdivia
Krista Vernoff
Lilly Wachowski
Lena Waite
ayelet waldman
Dahvi Waller
Lulu Wang
Michaela Watkins
sarah watson
audrey wauchop
Katie Wech
annie weisman
Hillary WeismanGraham
Lizzy Weiss
Gina Welch
Lindy West
Diana Whiten
Tracey Wigfield
Tracey Scott
Wilson Anna Winger
Nancy Wong
Carly Wray
Wei Ning Yu
Keisha Zollar
Lilla Zuckermann
nora zuckermann
Elisa Zuritsky
Lisa Zwerling

Gene Maddaus contributed to this report.

(Pictured: Shonda Rhimes, Issa Rae and Natasha Lyonne)

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