Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Western gaming companies have continued to declare their pro-abortion stances.
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On June 24th, The Supreme Court of the United States held in a 6-3 vote, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Justice Alito further wrote in his opinion, “The Court concludes the right to obtain an abortion cannot be justified as a component of such a right. Attempts to justify abortion through appeals to a broader right to autonomy and to define one’s ‘concept of existence’ prove too much.”
This came after a review of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization legal case which began December last year.
Some smaller gaming companies had already spoken out against the overturn when a draft of this decision was leaked to the public by Politico. At that time, most larger gaming companies had remained silent, excluding Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.
Once the vote was decided, the waters broke, and multiple western gaming companies spoke out in favor of “reproductive rights and bodily autonomy” and human rights, with some declaring they would pay for staff to travel to other states for “health care.”
The list includes numerous PlayStation Studios subsidiaries — no doubt motivated by Insomniac Games’ 60 page dossier and defiance — Bungie, Xbox, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Devolver Digital, Double Fine Productions, ArenaNet, Niantic, InnerSloth, Future Club, and more.
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Warner Bros. Games — also known as Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment — is another voice to add to the list. The publisher tweeted an article discussing Hollywood companies including Warner Bros. Discovery paying for employee travel for abortion.
“Great to see Warner Bros. Discovery making women’s essential health care and well-being a top priority,” Warner Bros. Games boasted.
EA seemingly heel-turned from reports back in May. Kotaku reported that bosses told EA staff that they wouldn’t be speaking out, and that while “being an inclusive company means being inclusive of all those points of view,” they would only speak out when it would “actually have a positive impact,” and it being a “consistent perspective” among their staff.
On June 24th, EA avoided the typical white-text-on-black-background for a corporate teal gradient. Their tweet stated “Our support is unwavering for our people. We are committed to expanding our benefits for U.S. employees and their eligible dependents – our aim is to provide the care, support and services for the health and well-being of our people.”
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Itch.io announced they would be selling an “Indie Bundle for Abortion Funds.” “The Indie Bundle for Abortion funds brings together more than 600 creators united for this important cause. More than 700 items for $10!” the digital games store promoted.
At the time of writing, gamers can buy 792 items for $10 or more, estimated at being over $3,000 in value. The bundle includes 341 games, 363 physical games, 28 game assets, 9 soundtracks, 9 tools, 13 comics, 22 books, and 7 miscellaneous items. So far 7,998 people have raised $198,113.89 toward the $200,000 goal, with seven days remaining.
All proceeds will go to the National Network for Abortion Fund’s Collective Power Fund, “which moves money directly to abortion funds across 20+ U.S. states, with a particular focus on the South and Midwest (where it is often most difficult to get access to abortions).”
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Sega was one of the few Japanese companies to speak out, albeit their English speaking Twitter may have spoken on behalf of their US branch.
“At SEGA, we stand for equality and believe the ability to make choices about one’s body is a human right,” the publisher declared, having seemingly made no such declaration amid COVID vaccine mandates.
“We are matching employee donations to Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation and other accredited non-profit organizations supporting reproductive rights selected by our team members,” Sega stated.
While Bethesda did speak out — as previously reported — this was seemingly motivated by staff, and even then wasn’t enough. Kotaku report staff at both Bethesda Game Studios and Zenimax Media are unhappy there was not a clearer support of “reproductive healthcare” (in Kotaku’s words).
Prior to the court’s decision, the women’s employee resource group sent an email to ZeniMax leadership. “As reproductive rights have come under full attack in the U.S., the lack of response from ZeniMax leadership has been deafening.”
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“At the time of this writing, six calendar days have passed since the intent to overturn Roe vs. Wade was leaked to the public,” the email then proceeded to highlight how Bethesda had supported Pride Month, Black Lives Matter, and the invasion of Ukraine internally.
“As more ZeniMax employees have their rights threatened, as more of us demand to know if our employer will stand with us, as competitors come out in support of their own workers, the company’s silence remains inexcusable and contrary to the company’s stated values,” the women’s group concluded.
One source told Kotaku “We waited with bated breath on Friday for the studios to issue a statement as other studios beat us to the [punch] by several hours.” Two months after the women’s group email, Bethesda tweeted their message of support. “We believe the ability to make choices about one’s body and lifestyle is a human right,” they proudly stated.
ZeniMax COO Jamie Leder later issued an apology email the same day.
“I’d like to apologize for any offense caused by the earlier communication and to reassure you that we will continue to protect our employee options and access to critical healthcare as we continue forward,” Leder wrote.
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Despite this apology and other comments made earlier by Leder to “reassure” employees on ZeniMax’s pro-abortion stance, the email only addressed three of the four requests the women’s employee group had brought up.
The four were adding contraceptive access to the company health plans, non-discrimination against pregnant employees, relocating employees located in states expected to change abortion laws, and accommodate staff according to their local state laws.
Leder had previously stated ZeniMax was attempting to “have ongoing discussions with our US healthcare provider about enhancing our benefits for those who may have to travel for medical services.” Specifics were not revealed at that time, since, or when Kotaku asked which specific steps ZeniMax had taken to guarantee reproductive healthcare.
Arguments have also arisen on company Slack channels, especially as many developers working on Starfield and Redfall are based in Texas. While some have demanded clear condemnation of it from superiors, others supported the overturn.
Kotaku reports one staff member wrote an eight paragraph condemnation of abortion in the company Slack, complete with 11 Bible quotes. A Bethesda director later removed the post and locked the thread, asking for politics and religion to be omitted from the “water cool” channel.
One former ZeniMax employee told Kotaku that after Microsoft’s acquisition, ZeniMax would handle benefits separately, meaning Microsoft policies — such as their support of abortion travel — would not apply to ZeniMax staff. “When it became clear that Microsoft was not absorbing us into their umbrella, a lot of people quit,” the former employee claimed.
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