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New Georgia Abortion Law Draws Backlash

Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, center, signs legislation, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Atlanta, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (Photo: Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

The film industry decided to strike back at the state of Georgia this week, due to the governor signing one of the strictest abortion law in the nation. However, the reaction was much slower and smaller than in 2016 when a “religious rights” bill that would have allowed discrimination against LGBTQ persons provoked a boycott threat that led then-Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the measure.

As much as five production companies announced on Thursday that they will no longer be working in the state, which have attracted some high-profile productions in the last few decades due to very generous tax incentives. As long as the law stays in place, the production company behind ‘First Reformed’, Killer Films, production company ran by David Simon, Blown Deadline Productions, Duplass Brothers Productions, CounterNarrative Films and Color Force have all decided to boycott the state. Over 100 television and film actors, including major headliners, have all stated that they will stop working in the state of Georgia as well.

Actress Alyssa Milano speaks after delivering a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office detailing her opposition to HB 481 at the State Capitol Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Photo: John Bazemore/AP)

CEO of Killer Films, Christine Vachon indicated that his company would “no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned.” Duplass added, “Don’t give your business to Georgia. Will you pledge with me not to film anything in Georgia until they reverse this backwards legislation?”

In a series of twitter messages, Simon wrote “I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies, I must undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact. Can only speak for my production company. Our comparative assessments of locations for upcoming development will pull Georgia off the list until we can be assured the health options and civil liberties of our female colleagues are unimpaired.”

Actress Alyssa Milano spearheaded an initiative to pressure a boycott of the state when the bill started working its way through the legislature. Milano was reported saying that she is contractually obligated to work in the state for one more month on the Netflix series “Insatiable” but would cease working there after that.

Among the actors to sign onto Milano’s petition promising to boycott the state are Oscar winners Patricia Arquette, Brie Larson and Natalie Portman, and Oscar nominees Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, Laura Dern, Minnie Driver, Alec Baldwin and Don Cheadle. The presence of Larson, Cheadle, Tessa Thompson and Mark Ruffalo among the signees is of note because they are all part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has used Atlanta as a hub. The Writers Guild of America has also spoken out against the bill.

Protesters rally outside of the Georgia State Capitol following the signing of HB 481, in Atlanta, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation on Tuesday banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

The law would not go into effect until January 2020, but this bill dubbed the “heartbeat” bill, will criminalize abortions after six weeks of gestation — before many women even know they are pregnant. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law this week.

The bill, HB 481 has classified unborn children as “distinct, living persons,” which would mean that any woman who terminates a pregnancy would be subject to prosecution for murder, which is punishable by life imprisonment or death in Georgia. Further more if a woman travels outside Georgia for an abortion, she could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, a potential 10-year sentence.