Wildly popular ESPN sports broadcaster Allison Williams has, fighting back tears and emotion, announced she is officially leaving the network after having her request for a vaccine exception to its mandate denied.
Williams supports those backing vaccine mandates, but with a caveat: "Power given is seldom returned."
Eventually, your government is going to mandate something you disagree with, she warned.
"When that day comes, I want you to at least know that we fought, and we tried," Williams said in an emotional and powerful statement via Instagram video this weekend.
Williams, lamenting having to leave her dream job, said she declined taking the COVID-19 vaccine while she seeks to expand her family.
"I have been denied on my request for accommodation by ESPN and the Walt Disney Company, and effective next week I will be separated from the company," she began in the gut-wrenching video statement.
Williams thanked the personal messages of support from followers and friends during a "dark and difficult" time.
"I've also had a lot of people, and women in particular, in regards to fertility and getting the injection," she said, adding she is "thrilled" for mothers who reached out to share their stories of "successful pregnancies" after being vaccinated.
"To the women who have reached out and shared their experiences of getting the injection and subsequent miscarriages, menstrual irregularities, periods after menopause, I am so sorry that that is your experience and I pray for you," she continued.
Williams, a young mother, said she believes both sides of the story for women.
"Belief is a word I've been thinking about a lot lately, because in addition to the medical apprehensions regarding my desire to have another child in regards to receiving this injection, I am also so morally and ethically not aligned with this," Williams said. "And I've had to really dig deep and analyze my values and my morals, and ultimately I need to put them first.
"And the irony in all this is that a lot of these same values and morals that I hold dear are what made me a really good employee, what helped with the success that I'm able to have in my career."
Williams said the Walt Disney Co., the parent of ESPN, had written to employees in April that being vaccinated was "a personal decision."
"Their values have clearly changed," she said.
Hers have not, and will not, she said.
Citing "political pressures," Williams said she "understands their values had changed."
"I had hoped they would respect that mine had not, and ultimately, I could not put a paycheck over principle," she said. "And I will not sacrifice in something I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career."
Williams admitted she weighed "the implications" of being a "good citizen" and a public face and voice amid a global pandemic.
"We all want to be good neighbors, we all want to end this pandemic, but ultimately an injection that does not stop spread and transmission for me did not weigh in morally," she said.
Williams saluted the similar stories of others facing the choice to leave their jobs over a mandated vaccine.
"They are nurses, they are teachers, they are doctors, police officers, and first-responders – they are most importantly our military," she said. "They, too, are pilots. They are choosing to put their beliefs first.
"I just all want you to know, I stand with you."
Williams finished with a sorrowful message of ending her ESPN tenure and hoping for better times ahead.
"I don't know what the future holds, obviously, for any of us," she said, holding back tears. "I'm trying to wrap my head around the thought that the largest game I've worked in my career, the national championship game, might be the last game I work.
"But I'm going to focus on what I have to be thankful for. I'm going to hold on to my faith. I'm going to pray that things get better, and that I can see you on the television set in some capacity, in some stadium, covering some game soon.
"Until then, God bless. I am going to go hug my baby."
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