Writers Guild warns Hollywood crews may leave Georgia over 'heartbeat' abortion bill

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) on Tuesday warned Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) that the state’s pending “heartbeat” abortion ban might cause production crews for Hollywood TV shows and movies to leave the state.

The WGA East and West chapters released a joint statement on Tuesday, urging legislators to think of the economic consequences for the "draconian, anti-choice measure."

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“This law would make Georgia an inhospitable place for those in the film and television industry to work, including our members,” the WGA statement read. 

“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.”

 

The Georgia state Senate last week passed a bill, backed by Kemp, that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It now heads back to the House, which will consider the Senate's changes.

If the measure is signed into law, it would be one of the most strict abortion laws in the country. 

Georgia is the third biggest state for film and TV production, behind New York and California.

Blockbuster movies such as “The Hunger Games” and television shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things” and “The Vampire Diaries” have been filmed on location in the state. 

The state announced that a record number of 455 productions were shot in Georgia in 2018, earning $49.5 billion in total economic impact. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that more than $2 billion in tax credits have been given out over the past decade, leading to companies filming in the state and generating tens of thousands of jobs.

No production companies have so far publicly stated that they would pull out of filming in Georgia over the ban, but the newspaper noted that some did in 2016 when a “religious liberty” bill was approved by the legislature before then-Gov. Nathan Deal (R) vetoed it.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who is currently in Georgia filming season 2 of her Netflix show “Insatiable,” urged Hollywood to boycott the state if the bill passes.

“It’s not just about tax laws; it’s about how the government treats its people,” Milano wrote in an op-ed for Deadline. “Women who work in Georgia’s film industry — many of them visiting from other states — need access to safe and legal reproductive care, including their constitutional right to an abortion. HB 481 takes that right away, forcing women to risk losing their jobs.”

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) echoed Milano’s concerns on Twitter, urging state lawmakers to “tread carefully” on the measure. 

“Georgia is the only international film hub threatening to limit a woman’s access to care. This hasn’t been an issue before because LA, NYC, Vancouver & Toronto know better. Trust women & their doctors,” Abrams wrote.

 

The Hill has reached out to Kemp's office for comment.