(As originally published with bells and whistles, Fri, June 24th 2022, 2:48 PM EDT)
ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS12) — American people aren’t the only ones reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will lead to abortion becoming illegal in certain states.
The largest private employer in the state is the Walt Disney Company with roughly 80,000 workers here, most at the theme parks near Orlando.
After Friday’s court announcement, Disney let its employees know it understood “concerns about what this might mean for you and your families, as medical and family planning decisions are deeply personal.”
Company executives wrote it “remains committed to removing barriers” and care for employees and their families will include “family planning and reproductive care, no matter where they live.”
In Florida, the legislature’s new restrictive abortion law will be on the books in one week. The bill was called Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality and starting July 1, it’ll mean almost no abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Rape and incest would not be exceptions.
The only exceptions would be “the pregnant woman’s life or to prevent a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, which must be certified in writing by two physicians, or by one physician in the case of an emergency if a second physician is not available.”
The Disney letter addresses employees’ worries about the time and cost of leaving Florida for medical care, if necessary.
“In fact, we have processes in place so that an employee who may be unable to access care in one location has affordable coverage for receiving similar levels of care in another location,” the letter reads. “This travel benefit covers medical situations related to cancer treatments, transplants, rare disease treatment and family planning (including pregnancy related decisions).”
Disney isn’t the only conglomerate that will cover its employees’ travel costs. The trade magazine Variety reported Paramount, Netflix, Comcast, Meta, and Condé Nast are also on board.
But Disney, in part through political contributions, has had a long and powerful history in Florida.
That changed to a frosty relationship with pro-life advocate Gov. Ron DeSantis when it became apparent the Parental Rights in Education would become state law.
DeSANTIS and ABORTION:
- 2022-08-09 New lawsuit filed against state of Florida, Gov. DeSantis over abortion law
- 2022-08-04 DeSantis suspends Hillsborough state attorney who ‘put himself above the law’
- 2022-07-14 Gov. DeSantis talks inflation, abortion during Thursday afternoon news conference
- 2022-06-30 Gov. DeSantis: Judge ruling Florida abortion law unconstitutional was ‘not unanticipated’
- 2022-06-24 Abortion ruling divisive in South Florida, just as the issue had been
The company had stayed quiet on the issue that was important to so many of its employees until just before DeSantis signed the bill, referred to by opponents as Don’t Say Gay, at a late March ceremony surrounded by kids with a podium sign that read “Protect Children, Support Parents.”
Disney CEO Bob Chapek was criticized for his slow response, so he apologized and harshly condemned the law. Disney also said it would suspend political donations in the state and instead support organizations working to oppose the new law.
That didn’t sit well with DeSantis, who, at the bill-signing, said, “Unfortunately Disney’s leadership bought into a lot of the false narratives,” and, referring to employees who’d threatened to walk out, “If you are out protesting this bill, you are by definition putting yourself in favor of injecting sexual instruction to five-, six-, and seven-year-old kids. I think most people think that’s wrong. I think parents especially think that’s wrong.”
The governor responded, saying, “You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.”
In April, DeSantis expanded the special legislative session on Congressional redistricting that had already started by calling on lawmakers to repeal special districts, such as Disney’s Reedy Creek, which has been around more than 50 years, since before Disney World even opened.
That happened in days and DeSantis reiterated, “That was really the first step in what’s going to be a process to make sure that Disney does not run its own government.”
The districts will be dissolved on June 1, 2023, though the proposal says they could be “reestablished.”