Netflix Is The First Hollywood Studio To Take A Stance On Abortion Rights

Ever since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the “heartbeat” bill earlier this month – banning abortions in the state as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the fourth state to do so – there have been few public reactions from studios in Hollywood, many of which shoot a large number of productions in the state. Now, Netflix has become one of the first to issue a statement on the controversial law.

Speaking to Variety, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos acknowledged the Georgia bill specifically, saying the studio will continue to film in the state, but will rethink future projects there if the bill ever goes into full effect. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said. “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.”

As of now, no “heartbeat” bills – where women can face prison time for seeking an abortion or even for having a miscarriage – have been fully implemented. Even if they do, most of them are expected to be challenged in court; last week, a federal judge blocked a draconian Mississippi abortion law before it passed, claiming it “threatens immediate harm to women’s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks.”

Still, Georgia is alarmingly the fourth state to sign a “heartbeat” bill into law, preceded by Alabama, Missouri, and Ohio. As it relates to Hollywood and Netflix, Georgia is especially favoured as a filming location for many TV shows and movies due to its state tax incentive, reports Variety. When the publication reached out to other studios for comment on the matter, Variety claimed it did not receive any responses, including from the film and TV divisions at The Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Fox, and Amazon Studios.

Ahead of Netflix’s statement, however, there were a few other Hollywood players who have scrapped filming plans in Georgia. After the bill was signed, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, the writing duo behind Bridesmaids, pulled out of the state, where they were planning to shoot scenes for their new comedy, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Furthermore, The Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano decided to no longer film scenes from her project The Power there.

Meanwhile, other filmmakers have taken a different approach. J. J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, who are filming a new show together in Georgia, titled Lovecraft Country, released a joint statement stating they’d continue filming in the state, but would stand “shoulder to shoulder with the women of Georgia.” They also promised to donate 100 per cent of their episodic fees to two human rights groups, the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia.

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