Video Games

Game companies pledge to help workers as abortion becomes illegal in many states

On Friday, the United States Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 vote that took away the constitutional right to choose to have an abortion. The United States had protected Americans’ rights to abortion for half a century; the landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization undoes decades’ worth of progress and introduces the possibility that other established rights could be overturned, like the right to same-sex marriage and contraception.

States are now individually left to decide whether abortion is legal, and in response to the Supreme Court decision, nine states have already banned the procedure. Twelve more states are likely to ban or severely restrict access to abortion care, according to the New York Times. People seeking abortion in these states will be forced to travel out-of-state to receive healthcare, and if they’re unable to travel, they’ll have no other recourse.

As The Verge reported in May, banning abortion in dozens of states will tie healthcare even more firmly to employers and workplaces. Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, many companies have released statements declaring their intent to support employees who need to travel to get this procedure. Video game studios are joining companies across industries by adding abortion coverage and medical travel benefits to healthcare packages. Workers living in impacted areas who work at these companies will be able to request funding to receive essential care, but this gives employers exceptional power. Without a country-wide right to healthcare, companies have to step in, thereby highlighting inequalities throughout the healthcare system.

Destiny 2 developer Bungie was one of the first studios to make a statement on the Supreme Court decision. “Bungie is committed to ensuring that every one of our employees and their families have safe and affordable access to essential healthcare needs,” a Bungie representative wrote on its website. “As we continue to expand our digital-first workplace to more states, we will now be implementing a travel reimbursement program for any employee to use when they or a dependent cannot get access to the healthcare they need where they live.”

Bungie also linked to a number of organizations that support healthcare rights, like Trans Lifeline and Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality.

Microsoft, Bethesda (which is owned by Microsoft), Ubisoft, Devolver Digital, Daybreak Games, Naughty Dog, Insomniac, Electronic Arts, and others have all issued public statements in support of reproductive rights. Activision Blizzard has not yet made a statement on social media, but it told Polygon that “maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all is a top priority” for the company, noting that it recently expanded its medical travel benefits plan.

Activision Blizzard has not responded to Polygon’s request for more information on how it will protect the privacy of employees who need to ask their employer for healthcare-related travel and funds. In response to the same question, an Electronic Arts spokesperson said the company is working with its healthcare provider “to determine that process.”

Halo Infinite support developer Certain Affinity is headquartered in Texas, one of the states that quickly banned abortion following the Supreme Court ruling. A representative of that company told Polygon that it will keep its headquarters in Texas, but has expanded its remote work options for employees who choose to relocate.

“We have committed to relocate any of our employees who are severely impacted by state laws, whatever state they’re in, to another state, should the need arise,” a Certain Affinity representative said. “This applies to all health matters.”

In total, Polygon reached out to 28 video game companies based in immediately impacted states where abortion was quickly banned with a series of questions regarding abortion care. Microsoft, Daybreak Games and Electronic Arts pointed us to social media or statements published on a website, while Activision Blizzard sent a statement. Certain Affinity answered Polygon’s questions through a spokesperson. Most did not respond by press time. Take-Two Interactive and Zynga declined to comment.

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