UPDATED with latest: Hollywood’s unions are reacting Friday to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.
SAG-AFTRA has called the decision “archaic and dangerous,” and vowed to “fight to protect women’s right to choice.”
“Anyone who believes in the right of women to make their own healthcare decisions should be outraged with today’s archaic and dangerous ruling,” the guild said in a statement Friday. “Every American deserves and is entitled to an equal right to healthcare choice. Today, the United States Supreme Court abandoned that principle in a ruling that empowers states to enact draconian restrictions on healthcare choice and destroy lives, if we allow it. We will continue to fight to ensure the overwhelming majority voice of the people is heard in state and federal legislative bodies. 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 recognized for decades.”
The guild added that it is “committed to protecting the health and safety of the members in our industry and beyond,” and offered a guide to abortion laws in each state, which can be seen here.
SAG-AFTRA noted that it is “a union that has among its members a diverse group of performers, broadcasters and newscasters. The passage of this statement should not be interpreted as a personal statement of opinion by or of any specific member of the union.”
The guild is also taking steps, “effective immediately,” to ensure that its employees will have access to abortions even if they live in states that discontinue abortion services in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In a message to the union’s staff, SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that “SAG-AFTRA as both a union and an employer is committed to the principle that all our members, all our employees, and indeed all Americans should have equal access to reproductive healthcare and an equal right to make the sometimes difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. The decision made by the Supreme Court is both wrongheaded and dangerous for our members and our staff.
“Many of the efforts that will be made to protect against the effects of this decision will require collective action and will take substantial time to see results. Where we have the opportunity to take immediate action to mitigate this misguided decision, we will do so.
“In that spirit, effective immediately, SAG-AFTRA is adopting a policy to provide support for SAG-AFTRA employees who live or work in any state or jurisdiction that restricts access to abortion services beyond the parameters previously in place under Roe v. Wade. SAG-AFTRA will, as an employee benefit, reimburse employees for the costs of travel to the nearest location where abortion services are available. A more detailed policy setting out precisely how this benefit will work will be made available soon by People & Culture.
“This is one small but important step to help make sure that all our colleagues have the right to make such personal and significant decisions for themselves. I will keep you posted over the coming days, weeks, and months on what other efforts and initiatives we will undertake as part of our broader campaign to protect the rights of our members and staff.”
The WGA West board of directors, and the WGA East Council, said in a joint statement, said that they “join to condemn the Supreme Court’s decision Friday morning overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that protected reproductive rights and the freedom of choice. Once again, this court has chosen to ignore public opinion and to violate the privacy and health of a vast percentage of the American population. This decision will lead to injury, death and the denial of basic human rights that allow Americans to lead the lives they choose without fear of interference or bodily harm. We now look to the states to enforce existing law or to act to pass new legislation that will protect against the Supreme Court’s misguided and harmful decision.”
The statement was signed by WGA West President Meredith Stiehm, Vice President Michele Mulroney, Secretary-Treasurer Betsy Thomas, and board members Liz Alper, Patti Carr, Robb Chavis, Adam Conover, Marjorie David, Travis Donnelly, Ashley Gable, Dante W. Harper, Eric Haywood, Deric A. Hughes, E. Nicholas Mariani, Zoe Marshall, Dailyn Rodriguez, David Slack, Patric M. Verrone, and Nicole Yorkin.
Signing for the WGA East were President Michael Winship, Vice President Lisa Takeuchi, Secretary Treasurer Christopher Kyle, and Council members Monica Lee Bellais, Sara David, Ashley Feinberg, Kaitlin Fontana, Gina Gionfriddo, Josh Gondelman, Tian Jun Gu, A.M. Homes, Liz Hynes, Kim Kelly, Gail Lee, Hamilton Nolan, Benjamin Rosenblum, Erica Saleh, David Simon, Lauren Ashley Smith, Sasha Stewart, Kelly Stout, and Tracey Scott Wilson.
IATSE also blasted the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it an “outrageous decision” and “one of the worst contractions of freedoms in modern U.S. history.”
“If extremist justices will blatantly ignore established legal precedent and lie about it in their confirmation hearings, how far will they go?” the union said in a statement. “The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision shows the court is prepared to nullify the rights Americans fought and died for. We stand together as sisters, brothers, and kin to ensure liberty and justice for all. Lawmakers at all levels must defend reproductive healthcare and Americans’ fundamental freedoms immediately, or face being replaced by those who will.”
“Make no mistake, this will directly harm the welfare of our union sisters and kin, and therefore we must respond strongly,” the union representing behind-the-scenes film and TV workers said. “We know well the catastrophic consequences that follow when authoritarians legislate control over our wombs, bodies, and lives.Taking away the option to receive compassionate reproductive care in the form of safe, legal abortions will disproportionally harm working-class people, force unwilling parents into poverty, worsen the already unacceptable maternal mortality crisis, imprison innocents for their biological functions (including miscarriages), and cut short far too many bright careers and lives.”
In a separate statement, the IATSE Women’s Committee said that it “believes in the right of all persons to make life choices based on the best information they have that impacts their immediate decision. Having lived in this country as women, many of us know too well the injustices and inequities that we’ll face under this authoritarian move. Not that long ago, we fought for contraceptive insurance coverage, and it’s still not comprehensive. We still fight for equal pay. We still don’t have equal representation in our so-called halls of justice.
“Let’s not forget that just a few short months ago we saw many Americans stealing the pro-choice slogan ‘My Body, My Choice’ when it was convenient for them. Our bodies are no less valuable. Our contributions to this country are no less valuable. Our choices are equally significant. This is about controlling women.
“The Women’s Committee is primed to take back that slogan and stand with the 70 % of Americans who support choice. We will stand together with our sisters, brothers, and kin to ensure …liberty and justice for all.”
The statement was signed by Joanne Sanders, IATSE vice president and chair of IATSE Women’s Committee.
IATSE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee also weighed in, saying that it is “dismayed and outraged by the Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturning Roe vs Wade. All five justices in favor spoke to Roe vs Wade being an established precedent in their confirmation hearings, and now blatantly ignore that precedent. BIPOC and working-class people will bear the brunt of this decision; autonomy and choice will be taken away, with no exceptions in at least 20 states across the USA.
“The language of the decision and blatant disregard of established precedent is disturbing, and leaves opportunities to repeal established Civil Rights legislation on interracial marriage, marriage equality, equal opportunity and Title IX, and even Brown v. Board of Education. Decades of hard-fought progress on voting rights, equality, humanity and equity-building are at risk from the stroke of a pen. We must not let this happen. We will work together to protect choice and our collective Civil Rights.”
Actors’ Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers in live theater, also joined the chorus.
“Knowing that this decision was likely imminent has not made this news any less painful,” Equity said in a statement. “This is a catastrophic step backwards for human rights in this country. Equity once again affirms that abortion is a necessary and often life-saving medical procedure that requires safe, legal and open access.
“Equity’s thoughts are with our members, knowing that populations that are already marginalized by society will suffer the most as a result of this ruling, and the anti-abortion movement especially targets groups like women and LGBTQ+ Americans. However, this is not a time to mourn, but a time for action. The union is determined to do everything in our power to serve our members, which includes helping them access abortion care.
“So much in the future is uncertain, as some states have already set into motion legislation that not only criminalizes abortion, but outlaws even providing care related to abortion access. Access to reproductive care is a labor issue, and a safe and sanitary workplace is not possible without the right to bodily autonomy. We are determined to find ways to protect our members, many of whom tour the country to earn a living, or who live or work in states that are about to become far more dangerous for those needing reproductive care. This will include connecting them to whatever resources are available that will help them secure abortions when they need them.
“We also know that this fight will not stop with abortion. We will lend our voice to the important work already underway to protect abortion access, and we remain committed to combatting legislation that seeks to capitalize on this ruling and further impinge on human rights in the United States.”
Saying that the “system is broken” and that “the legitimacy of the Supreme Court must be reevaluated,” the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents more than 6,000 singers, dancers and staging staff in opera, ballet and concert dance, is also deploring the high court’s ruling.
In a statement, AGMA president Ray Menard said that “This ruling, a departure from 50 years of established law, makes abortion immediately inaccessible and often illegal to obtain in large portions of the country. Starting today, any person with a uterus now risks having to carry a pregnancy to term against their will and regardless of the risk, possibly at the cost of their own lives.
“When we learned of this eventuality through the leak of a draft opinion in May, I said: ‘Unions have always known that comprehensive healthcare is a fundamental right, and this decision will make it harder for pregnant people to make their own choices and chart their own destinies.’
“Our fears have become a reality. Overturning Roe and Casey after nearly a half a century makes safe access to healthcare, the protection of bodily autonomy, and the preservation of a person’s right to choose impossible for many across the United States. Today, a person’s right to plan their own life, on their own terms, was stolen. Notably, this reversal further deepens and worsens the preexisting and profound health inequities that exist in our country.
“As we begin to live in a world without a constitutional right to abortion, we must reckon with the enormous consequences of this ruling. Today’s decision does not just imperil abortion rights, it also calls into question other fundamental rights protected by the constitution, including the right to same-sex marriage and the right to contraception.
“In a little more than 24 hours, the Court has issued two rulings that put Americans at immediate risk. In the first decision, the Court decreed that states have no authority to regulate concealed weapons. In the second, the Court held that states have unlimited authority to police the bodies of pregnant people. These decisions are not easily reconciled, except that they are nakedly political, based on profound misunderstanding and misapplication of history and legal precedent, and grounded in a brutal and backward worldview that makes us all less safe and less free.
“The system is broken. The legitimacy of the Supreme Court must be reevaluated. I stand with the citizens who are protesting this morning’s ruling. Today is a good reminder that our power doesn’t come from laws; it comes from everyday working people, united, who remain on the front lines of the fight for a better world, even on sad days like today. Together, we are our solace, our refuge, and our strength, and we must stand united to face what comes next.”