There has been a lot of controversy over the Georgia anti-abortion “heartbeat”bill. The bill prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. But reproductive rights advocates and doctors say the laws, which prohibit abortion before many women know they are pregnant, amount to a near-total ban on the procedure.
The bill includes a penalty for those who perform abortions of up to ten years in prison. It does not explicitly exempt women who perform their own abortions with drugs, leading to speculation about whether they would also be subject to criminal charges. Some have suggested that it could even lead to murder charges for women who have abortions but other experts say the consequences are far from clear.
The entertainment industry sets a lot of films and TV shows in the state due to a highly favourable state tax incentive.
Following the bill, many in the film industry have spoken out against it. Kristin Wiig and Bridesmaids writer Annie Mumolo will no longer be shooting their upcoming film in Georgia in the wake of its anti-abortion bill signing. Powerhouse female creators like “The Handmaid’s Tale” breakout director Reed Morano too have spoken out against the law. Actor and talk-show host Busy Philipps fronted an ad campaign with the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) countering what she said is an attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe versus Wade, via multistate anti-abortion bills. Actors like “Titanic” star Frances Fisher and local women in the film industry have picketed on the steps of Atlanta City Hall.
“It’s hard to wake up every day feeling like I’m growing up in my mother’s generation,” says veteran producer Lori McCreary, former president of the Producers Guild of America and CEO of Revelations Entertainment. “I don’t have anything that’s shooting in those locations but would give it a second thought in those states because I think it’s important for us to support women.”
Director Reed Morano was due to start filming Amazon Studios’ adaption of Naomi Alderman’s award-winning feminist novel “The Power in Georgia” but has now cancelled the trip in opposition to the bill.
Emmy-winning Morano told Time magazine, “We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly. There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there. I think this is one of the ways where we know we can hit a state where it hurts.”
Prominent Hollywood figures have been advocating a boycott in the state, which is home to a thriving film industry. The industry employs 92,000 people and generated $9.5 billion in total economic impact in 2018 (via Time magazine).
Variety magazine reports that some producers including JJAbrams and Get Out’s Jordan Peels have pledged their salaries or donations to charities like the Georgia chapter of the ACLU in a bid to fight against the legislation while they remain in Georgia.
“A woman’s right to make choices about her own body is fundamental to her personal and professional well-being,” Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of the non-profit group in Women in Film, told Variety magazine in an exclusive statement. “ We support people who make the choice not to take their production to Georgia or take a job in Georgia because of the Draconian anti-choice law. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of pro-choice states that offer meaningful tax rebates and production incentivesand encourage everyone to explore these alternatives: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Washington.”
While many media companies with deep financial investments in the state have so far reminded quiet on the issue, Netflix has responded to Variety magazine’s inquiries.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by the law,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer remarked. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
Hollywood has been tracking the progress of Georgia’s heartbeat bill since late March, when 40 actors delivered an open letter demanding its rejection by Kemp. The letter signed by Amy Schumer, Sean Penn, Gabrielle Union, Mia Farrow and Laverne Cox read, “We can’t imagine being elected officials who have to say to their constituents, ‘I enacted a law that was so evil, it chased billions of dollars from our state’s economy’”.
It is actions like these from Hollywood that recognise that the fundamental right a woman has to her own body has been taken from her will someday change the world and the hope we leave is that we can make it a better place for the women that come after us.