Hollywood's two largest entertainment unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – now merged as SAG-AFTRA – will now pay for its members to travel to get abortions.
The organization, which represents around 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voice-over artists, and other media professionals, announced Aug. 12 that it will pay for the travel expenses of members to get an abortion, including going out-of-state.
"The trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan have unanimously approved a reimbursement benefit to cover travel and lodging expenses related to abortion care for participants who live or work in states prohibiting abortion," the union said in a press release Aug. 1. "In taking this decisive action, SAG-AFTRA and Management Plan Trustees are seeking to ensure participants will continue to have access to safe abortion services regardless of where they live or work."
The new benefit for members, effective Aug. 1, will pay for members who live in a state where abortion is legal, but are working in a state where it is illegal, to either travel home to get the procedure, or to the nearest state where it is available.
Members that live and work in a state that bans abortion can get reimbursed for "reasonable" travel expenses to the nearest state where it remains legal.
"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 critical, necessary and often life-saving reproductive healthcare, wherever they live or work," the organization said.
The specific benefit will reimburse participant or dependent members for travel, lodging, and employment taxes, but not for meals, childcare and babysitting, travel outside the country, for more than one caregiver or companion, or extending trips for personal reasons, according to the summary of the benefit.
In addition to approving the new benefit for its members, the organization said it supports efforts in starts like California and New York to codify abortion protections in their respective state constitutions and provides members updates on abortion rights.
The move comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal nationwide.
The court ruled in June it had no authority in the Constitution to grant abortion as a right, sending the issue back to individual states to decide.
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