The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan announced Friday that it will reimburse participants for travel costs when they are forced to go out of state for an abortion.
The health plan covers eligible members of the union, which represents about 160,000 actors, broadcast journalists, stunt performers, news editors, and other media professionals.
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The trustees of the plan unanimously approved the new policy, which is retroactive to Aug. 1. Plan participants who work in a state that bans abortion will be reimbursed for travel costs and lodging in the nearest state where abortion is legal.
Participants who live in a state where abortion is legal will also have the option to return home for the procedure, the plan said. The plan will cover costs for the participant and one companion, and will reimburse for two nights in a hotel — up to $300 a night — plus additional night(s) if medically necessary. It will also cover coach plane tickets and mileage or rental car expenses up to $65 per day. It will not cover meals or childcare costs.
The major studios had previously announced that they would reimburse employees’ travel costs for obtaining an out-of-state abortion. But last month, a group of more than 400 TV showrunners and creators urged the employers to go farther, asking for a set of specific protocols to protect employee privacy, to address ectopic pregnancies and pregnancy complications, and to indemnify employees for any civil and criminal repercussions for seeking an abortion. The signatories also urged employers to stop contributing to pro-life politicians.
On Wednesday, several studios issued a response, saying that the industry health plans were in the process of updating their policies to address the travel reimbursement issue. The response did not address many of the other concerns.
Georgia is by far the largest entertainment industry hub where abortion is severely restricted. A six-week “heartbeat” abortion ban went into effect there last month. But several other states with significant filming incentives also ban or severely restrict abortion, including Louisiana, Ohio and Texas.
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