Recently, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed into a law a bill that will ban abortions in the state once a heartbeat is present in the fetus, which occurs at around six weeks. Many people believe that this could lead to the overall criminalization of abortion in Georgia, and, because of this, many in Hollywood have called for boycotting the state.
A boycott could dramatically affect the lucrative film industry in the state, in the hope that this would lead to the repeal of the law. But not all pro-choice leaders are in favor of the boycott. Democrat Stacey Abrams, who came within a hair’s breadth of winning last November’s gubernatorial race in Georgia, opposes the boycott, in spite of supporting their goals. She says that a boycott would unfairly hurt workers in the state.
Major Hollywood Studios Not Yet Joining the Boycott
So far, the boycott has had a limited effect in Georgia. While 3 independent film production companies have announced that they will not work in the state while the abortion ban is in effect, they have not as of now been joined by major Hollywood production companies.
These companies say that they will continue to film in the state despite the fact that 50 leading actors signed a letter before the bill was enacted that indicated that they would try to stop film production in the state if the bill was passed.
Boycotts of Similar Laws Have Worked
This is not the first time that businesses and celebrities have used the power of a boycott to try to change laws that they found unjust. Back in 2016, in nearby North Carolina, the state passed a law that required transgender people to use public bathrooms designated by their original sex. This led to outrage across the country and a boycott ensued.
The boycott led to the cancelation of many major sporting events in the state as well as concerts by top performers such as Bruce Springsteen. A number of large corporations also expressed outrage at the law, and PayPal even canceled its plan to establish operations in the state. Eventually, the boycott worked. The North Carolina legislature changed the law sufficiently to appease the boycotters.
A similar situation occurred in Indiana. After the state passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many felt was anti-gay, a similar group of forces that came out against the North Carolina bill arrayed itself against the Indiana law. Businesses canceled conventions there and threatened to halt plans to expand operations in the state. Like in North Carolina, eventually the Indiana state legislature changed the law to make it more amenable to those protesting it.
All this is what gives those who are now boycotting Georgia hope that they can have similar success.
Backlash to the Georgia Boycott
In November of 2018, Brian Kemp won the governor’s race by a razor’s margin over Stacey Abrams, in an election that many felt was blemished by accusations of minority voter suppression. The boycott calls came soon after the election, based on the fear that the governor-elect would sign the heartbeat bill that was then making its way through the state legislature.
But Abrams herself has come out against the boycott. She believes that a boycott would not hurt those who made the law, but instead it would hurt ordinary Georgians. She has directly appealed to Hollywood to abandon their boycott effort and focus their efforts on Fair Fight Georgia, which is a nonprofit organization that she has started to support voting rights in the state.
Some women in the state’s film industry have also come out against the boycott. Rachelle Morgan, who is a local film industry worker, says that she is against the heartbeat law but she believes that a boycott would hurt her and her family even though they did nothing to put the law into effect. Other female film workers in the state have expressed similar views.
Without the support of people like Abrams and Morgan, it is unclear at the moment whether the boycott of Georgia will have the same effect as the ones in North Carolina and Indiana.