The United States is currently facing a major crisis, with a leaked court document revealing draft plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, a US court ruling that allows pregnant people the right to seek a legal abortion in any state in the country. It appears the draft plan was leaked by a disgruntled party – and it’s led to widespread protests both online and in-person, around the world. Removal of the Roe v. Wade ruling would essentially give individual states power to ban abortions, and to deny safe access to healthcare. Several voices have joined protests on this issue – and now video game companies are doing the same.
The most prominent voices to share their support of abortion rights are developers Double Fine and Bungie, who have both taken a visible and important stance against the ruling repeal online.
‘At Bungie we believe that everyone has a right to choose their own path and that freedom is expressed across all facets of life. The leaked draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade represents a blow to freedom in America and is a direct attack on human rights,’ Bungie posted on its blog.
‘Bungie is committed to safeguarding the freedom and privacy of its employees and providing support to all employees affected by this decision. Standing up for reproductive choice and liberty is not a difficult decision to make, and Bungie remains dedicated to upholding these values.’
The stance is extremely important. As one of the most visible game developers in the United States, the company voicing support on a global platform sends a clear message to campaigners, politicians and fans. It also sends a very pointed message to aggressive ‘pro-life’ advocates, who’ve spent the week angrily tweeting at Bungie for its stance.
‘We’ve chosen our side and it wasn’t difficult. Our company values exist beyond our games,’ Bungie said in reply to a Twitter user who opted to coin Bungie’s choice as ‘political BS’.
‘It’s very relevant to the lives of our employees. We will never stop,’ it replied to another, who also attempted to paint the struggle for abortion rights as a political issue that shouldn’t be touched by a video game company.
As voices continue to dissent, Bungie has taken a firm stance, and is actively fighting back against criticism – something that’s essential in the continued fight to reaffirm abortion rights. In addition to ensuring its employees feel safe at work, the company’s verbal stance is also working to fight back against the idea that games companies can’t share their ideologies and values with players.
‘We at Double Fine Productions stand steadfast in our support of essential healthcare rights for all. We firmly believe that a decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade would deny people their human rights, and directly impact the lives, freedoms, and choices of everyone in this country,’ it wrote on Twitter. ‘For those who are able we encourage donating to an organisation that will stand up for these rights.’
As with Bungie, the company is dealing with a fair amount of flack from pro-life activists online – but in response, it has simply retweeted its stance and support of essential healthcare and abortion rights for everyone.
It’s essential that all companies take similarly active stances on this issue. While it’s somehow been painted as a ‘freedom’ from federal control movement, the reality is that the potential removal of Roe v Wade could lead to the immediate reinsertion of state-based abortion bans around the United States. Everyone should have the right to determine their own bodily autonomy – and have the safe choice to end a pregnancy when it’s unwanted.
With many countries around the world looking to the United States for their example – Australia included – any change to the existing law could have major global ripples. Loud, prominent opposition is essential to ensuring human rights are maintained in the US, and everywhere it has influence.