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If Georgia's extreme anti-abortion law takes effect, Disney CEO Bob Iger told Reuters that it would be “very difficult” for his studio to continue working in the state. Disney joined Netflix in suggesting it will boycott Georgia if the state follows through with its plan to all-but eliminate abortion rights.
The Georgia bill is a “heartbeat” law banning abortion as soon a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. It grants exceptions only in the cases of rape and incest that have been reported to police, or when a pregnancy poses significant harm to a woman’s health.
"I think many people who work for us will not want to work there," Iger told Reuters, "and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully."
It’s not the first time that the studios have responded to political events in Georgia. In 2016, the state came close to passing a “religious freedom” bill that would have legalized discrimination against LGBT people. (Indiana had passed a similar law under then-governor Mike Pence the year before, but amended it in the face of boycotts from organizations like the NCAA.) Before Georgia passed its anti-LGBT bill into law, however, both Disney and Netflix threatened the state with a boycott. Then-governor Nathan Deal vetoed the bill.
Georgia has attracted hundreds of television and film productions in recent years with lucrative tax incentives. Disney hits like Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, and Avengers: Endgame-which are among the most the highest-grossing films of all time-were shot in and around Atlanta.
Netflix was the first major studio to speak out against Georgia’s new bill. The company’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement to Variety that the company plans to “work with the ACLU and others to fight [the abortion bill] 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,” said Sarandos. "Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
Both Disney and Netflix have predicated their boycott threat on the laws going into effect, which may not happen for years. Such bills generally face vigorous legal resistance from organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, and the resulting court battles often prevent or long delay the such laws take effect.
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