As Georgia lawmakers consider a near total abortion ban, film stars, film industry labor unions, and local businesses are opposing the legislation.
Almost 100 local film and TV workers in Georgia signed onto a letter Thursday addressed to Sony, Netflix, Disney, Marvel, HBO, and Universal Pictures calling on the industry giants to join them in opposing HB 481, which would criminalize abortion once there is “a detectable heartbeat,” as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and before many people know they are pregnant. The letter noted that when the Republican-majority Georgia legislature attempted to enact a discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act law in 2016, “film studios were able to stop former Governor Nathan Deal from signing the bill into law” by saying they would pull projects from the state if the bill was signed.
“We now need the studios to do the same again,” the letter said. “As employers to hundreds of women and people who are able to reproduce, it essential that your employees are able to manage their bodies and have the ability to make critical life decisions on their own.”
More than 40 high-profile celebrities—including Amy Schumer, Gabrielle Union, Uzo Aduba, Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Mia Farrow, Colin Hanks, and Amber Tamblyn—have signed onto a letter to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R) and Gov. Brian Kemp (R ) saying they would urge the industry to move its business elsewhere if Georgia Republicans move ahead with their near-total abortion ban, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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“As actors, our work often brings us to Georgia,” says the letter, spearheaded by actress Alyssa Milano, according to the Journal-Constitution. “But we cannot in good conscience continue to recommend our industry remain in Georgia if H.B. 481 becomes law.”
“This dangerous and deeply-flawed bill mimics many others which have already been deemed unconstitutional,” the letter says. “We want to stay in Georgia. We want to continue to support the wonderful people, businesses, and communities we have come to love in the Peachtree State. But we will not do so silently, and we will do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women if H.B. 481 becomes law.”
The Writers Guild of America’s east and west divisions issued a joint statement Tuesday condemning the anti-choice legislation in Georgia and calling on the state’s leadership to reject the measure. “This law would make Georgia an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members,” the statement said. “If the Georgia Legislature and Governor Kemp make HB 481 law, it is entirely possible that many of those in our industry will either want to leave the state or decide not to bring productions there. Such is the potential cost of a blatant attack on every woman’s right to control her own body.”
“Governor Kemp, Speaker Ralston and the Georgia House of Representatives have it within their power to avert what is both an affront to women and potential economic harm to their constituents,” the statement continues. “They should prevent HB 481 from becoming law, not only to protect the vibrant film and television industry in their state, but because it is the right thing to do.”
Democrat Stacey Abrams, who last year narrowly lost the state’s gubernatorial election in an election that is being investigated by the U.S. House of Representatives, weighed in on why the film industry was speaking out against the abortion ban in a Monday tweet. “Georgia is the only international film hub threatening to limit a woman’s access to care,” said Abrams. “This hasn’t been an issue before because LA, NYC, Vancouver & Toronto know better. Trust women & their doctors. And tread carefully.”
Last week, a group of nearly 100 business owners from the Atlanta area signed a letter condemning HB 481. “Businesses and employees choose their location based on where they will feel safe and free to make the best decisions for themselves,” the letter said. “Bodily autonomy is a baseline issue and for Georgia’s economy to grow, women—who are half of the workforce—must have access to the healthcare services they need. Without access to baseline healthcare, women would have justifiable cause to look elsewhere for employment, harming Georgia’s ability to recruit and retain talented workers.”