Monday, June 27, 2022

Abortion Travel Costs to Be Covered by Paramount, Netflix, Disney, Hollywood

Paramount, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Meta and More Media Companies to Cover Employee Travel Costs for Abortions After Roe v. Wade Overturned

Abortion right activists gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana). AP.

Paramount, Disney, Netflix, Comcast, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony, Meta and several other major media and entertainment companies have said that they will cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

In the wake of the ruling, Disney reached out to employees on Friday (June 24) to stress that they recognize the “impact” of the Supreme Court’s decision and “remain committed to providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care” for all Disney employees and their families, which includes family planning and reproductive care, “no matter where they live,” an internal source told Variety. For Disney employees unable to access a medical service, including abortions, in one location, they have a travel benefit that allows for “affordable coverage for receiving similar levels of care in another location.” Walt Disney World, one of the company’s major theme parks is located in Orlando. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has already moved to implement abortion restrictions that limit access to the procedure.

Netflix said it offers employees and their dependents up to $10,000 in travel reimbursement for cancer treatment, transplants, gender affirming care, or abortion through its plan, while Warner Bros. Discovery said it has expanded its healthcare benefits to cover employees who must go to other states to access abortion and reproductive care. In a memo, the company’s chief people and culture officer, Adria Alpert Romm, wrote, “our number one priority is the wellbeing, health and safety of our employees.”

And other companies offer similar protections. Variety has confirmed that Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, has a travel benefit that covers employees’ medical services and procedures that aren’t available near an employee’s home. Like Disney, the company also maintains a theme park in Florida.

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish and chief people officer Nancy Phillips sent a memo to staff on Friday, obtained by Variety, confirming the company’s intentions to cover travel costs for employees seeking abortions, writing, “Reproductive health care through company-sponsored health insurance, including coverage for birth control, elective abortion care, miscarriage care and certain related travel expenses if the covered health service, such as abortion, is prohibited in your area.”

In a memo from Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi, the company confirmed that employees can apply to relocate “without justification,” allowing those in states where abortion is outlawed to move to states where it is legal.

A Meta spokesperson said the social media giant will offer travel reimbursements, but couched that by stating “to the extent permitted by law.” That’s notable because some states that are instituting abortion bans could try to find ways to legally restrict people from traveling to other states for the procedure.  “We are in the process of assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved,” the spokesperson said.

Sony employees in the U.S. receive reimbursement for travel if it’s required to access healthcare services available under its health plan, which includes reproductive healthcare, a source has confirmed. Sony Music Group and Live Nation are known to have insurance policies that provide reimbursement for travel if it is required to access healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare services. Live Nation posted the following message pledging to cover travel expenses for “employees who need access to women’s healthcare services outside their home state”:

The Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Institute, which has staff across the country and an office and the annual festival in Utah, announced several weeks ago that it has augmented its healthcare benefits to include covering travel expenses. Utah is one of the states expected to implement abortion bans following the court’s decision.

Several publishing companies also weighed in on the momentous decision. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti told staffers that the company will provide a stipend for anyone residing in the 13 states with triggering abortion ending laws to cover the cost for travel and expenses to other states where they can have the procedure. “The process around this will be completely confidential,” Peretti wrote.

Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch said in a note to his staff on Friday that the company has “made enhancements to our U.S. health benefits to assist covered employees and their covered dependents in obtaining access to reproductive care regardless of where they reside. Employees who need abortion, infertility or gender-affirming services who cannot obtain that care locally are now eligible for reimbursement on travel and lodging.”

APA CEO Jim Gosnell sent a note to staff saying the company would “include coverage for employees and their covered family members who may need to travel in order to access a range of medical procedures, including family planning and reproductive health.”

Some Hollywood companies did not respond to a request for comment on the decision, while others, such as Amazon and Lionsgate, said they did not have a statement at this time.

The final Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, fully repudiates the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights. It also effectively strikes down the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that largely maintained the right established in Roe.

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