Netflix Threatens to Boycott Georgia if Abortion ‘Heartbeat’ Law Goes into Effect

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - SEPTEMBER 09: Reed Hastings, CEO and founder of Netflix, talks for the international press during the launch of Netflix in Colombia on September 9, 2011 in Bogota,Colombia. (Photo by Felipe Caicedo/ Getty Images for Netflix)
Felipe Caicedo/ Getty Images for Netflix
WARNER TODD HUSTON

Netflix has become the first Hollywood studio to speak out against the recent spate of state laws putting restrictions on abortion, especially that from the State of Georgia where a burgeoning film industry resides.

A growing list of individuals and groups in and outside the film industry are agitating against Georgia, including director Reed Morano and actors Alyssa Milano, Elizabeth Perkins, and Mark Hamill. Organizations such as the Producers Guild of America and the ACLU have also called for boycotts of Georgia over the state’s new “heartbeat” abortion law that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (usually around the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy).

Despite the growing chorus of protesters in the film industry, no studios have taken up the cause until now. Netflix has become the first studio to speak out against the abortion laws. The company was the only studio to respond to a request for a statement by industry newspaper, Variety.

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told Variety. “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.”

Cable TV network Starz has also made what might be considered a glancing response to the abortion law in Georgia by announcing a donation to pro-abortion groups while airing its series, P-Valley, which was filmed in the Peach State. However, Starz would not make any more specific comments in response to Variety’s questions.

The Motion Picture Association of America has also made a statement on the situation in Georgia but has only said it is monitoring events there. The MPAA has not announced any particular goals or issued any specific condemnations. The MPAA did note the human impact of the film industry in Georgia, noting that Georgia reported 92,000 film industry jobs and more than $9 billion in film production spending.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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