In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Writers Guild of America East and West’s health plan has added a new benefit to cover travel and accommodation costs for participants who are seeking to cross state lines for abortions.
The trustees of the Producer-Writers Guild of America Health Fund have approved reimbursing travel costs for participants seeking the procedure and living or working in states that have prohibited abortions, the Writers Guild of America East informed members on Monday.
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“If a participant lives in a state where abortion remains legal but works in a state which has prohibited abortion after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, they can choose between going home for the procedure or going to the state closest to their job where abortion remains lawful,” the WGA East wrote in an email to health plan participants on Monday. “If a participant lives in a state where abortion access is now illegal, they may choose to have the procedure in the state closest to them where abortion remains lawful.”
The Summary of Material Modifications for the change notes that the benefit covers health plan participants and covered dependent spouses and children (the latter only in the event of a medical emergency). The amendment is effective starting Monday.
The WGA East and West’s health plan already covers abortions for plan participants and spouses that are their dependents. Children that are their dependents can also receive coverage “when the pregnancy termination constitutes an emergency service.”
The change resembles some recent modifications made to benefits at fellow entertainment union the Directors Guild of America in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling. Not long after the decision went public in late June, the Directors Guild Foundation approved a new policy offering financial aid to union members traveling to another state for an abortion. Subsequently, the board of trustees for the Directors Guild of America–Producer Pension and Health Plans decided to cover travel costs for participants seeking abortions and living or working on DGA projects in states where they are banned and to cover abortions for dependent children.
Following the Dobbs v. Jackson decision in late June, abortion is currently prohibited in Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.