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The boycott threat over Georgia’s abortion ban is growing

“There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.”

More and more filmmakers are protesting Georgia over its abortion ban
A woman speaks during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia bill would ban abortion after just six weeks, before many women and gender minorities even know they're pregnant. (Photo credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

A growing number of filmmakers and production companies are announcing they will not do business in Georgia following the state’s decision to enact a six-week abortion ban.

Emmy-award-winning director Reed Morano was set to visit Georgia this week to scout locations to film the upcoming Amazon show The Power, but she instead canceled the trip and pulled the plug entirely on filming in Georgia.

“We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly,” Morano told TIME on Tuesday. “There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.”

Morano won an Emmy for filming three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Maragaret Atwood’s novel about a misogynist dystopia. According to TIME, at least “two scouts hired by the show had been working in the Savannah area for several months, prepping for her arrival,” before she canceled the trip.

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The executive producers of the show, Jane Featherstone and Naomi De Pear, said in a statement that the decision was “a direct response to the signing.”

“We feel we have to stand up for a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body, and so while this is not a decision we have taken lightly, we feel strongly that it is the right one at this point in time,” they said.

It’s not just The Power. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who worked on the Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids, also pulled out of filming their new comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar in Georgia this week. A representative for Wiig cited the ban as the reason why.

This follows several threats of boycotts from production companies. David Simon’s Blown Deadline, Killer Films, and Duplass Brothers Productions all announced they would stop doing business in Georgia earlier this month. Last week, Jason Bateman, the star and producer of Ozark, told The Hollywood Reporter that should these abortion bans survive the legal challenges they are expected to face, he would cease doing business in Georgia “or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights.”

The majority of production companies doing business in Georgia, however, have yet to take action. Like Bateman, many seem to be waiting to see whether the ban will actually take effect.

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Georgia’s ban, which is set to take effect in 2020, will make abortion illegal after just six weeks of gestation — before many women and gender minorities even realize they are pregnant. Anti-choice activists and lawmakers call this a “fetal heartbeat” ban, but experts say that the term “fetal pole cardiac activity” ban may be more accurate. There is no fetus after six weeks of pregnancy, but only the first visible sign of a developing embryo. A fetus is usually formed around 10 weeks.

The ban is expected to face legal challenges before 2020. Lawmakers in Georgia and several other states are pushing extreme abortion bans that violate the constitutional right to abortion in the hopes that one will make it to the Supreme Court, where Roe v. Wade is all but expected to be overturned by the court’s new conservative majority.

A few days after Georgia signed its ban into law, Alabama enacted a near-total abortion ban that would make abortion a Class A felony and punish doctors performing an abortion with up to 99 years in prison. Though patients seeking abortion are exempt from criminal and civil liability, the ban is still severe. The law provides no exceptions for cases rape or incest, but does allow an abortion in cases where the health of the pregnant person is at risk.

Hard on Alabama’s heels, Missouri’s state legislature passed an eight-week abortion ban, on Friday of last week, which Gov. Mike Parsons (R) is expected to sign into law. Missouri’s ban would also make abortion automatically illegal if Roe is overturned.

The threat of boycotts in Georgia is notable because the state is considered to be one of the top filming locations in the world, thanks to a generous entertainment tax incentive passed in 2008. During the 2018 fiscal year, Georgia hosted 455 film and television projects, which translated into roughly $2.7 billion in direct spending. In 2016, the state faced the prospect of mass boycotts over a “religious liberty” bill that would have allowed faith-based organizations to refuse service to LGBTQ people. Then-Gov. Nathan Deal (D) vetoed the bill, saying the matter was “about the character of our state and the character of its people.”

On Monday, a Democratic lawmaker in California proposed a bill offering tax breaks to production companies that relocate from states with “strict abortion bans,” like Georgia and Alabama.