Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams flew to Los Angeles this week to encourage Hollywood executives and industry officials not to go through with boycotting Georgia over the state’s new heartbeat abortion law.
The film industry has threatened to boycott Georgia due to the controversial law, which makes abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That typically occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy, often before women realize they are pregnant.
Though she doesn’t hold office, Abrams told Atlanta’s WSB-TV that her “mission is to make sure these jobs stay in Georgia.” She met with executives, producers, actors and low-level behind-the-scenes staffers to convince them that pulling business from Georgia would be premature.
“I don’t disparage boycotts. They have their function. But this is a situation where the political realities are that a boycott won’t have the intended effect,” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I don’t disparage boycotts. They have their function. But this is a situation where the political realities are that a boycott won’t have the intended effect.”
Georgia’s law won’t take effect until January but it is expected to be challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, where it could test the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that made abortion legal throughout the U.S.
Abrams, therefore, urged filmmakers to wait before potentially wreaking havoc on the state’s economy.
Direct film spending in Georgia reached $2.7 billion in 2018, and the approximately 450 projects shot in the state in 2018 supported roughly 92,000 jobs, the newspaper reported. Because Georgia has one of the nation’s most generous tax-incentive programs for filmmakers, Hollywood also saves big money by shooting movies there -- roughly $800 million in 2018.
Hollywod also invested in Georgia by funding studios, soundstages and equipment that wouldn’t be easy to pull out should a boycott ensue.
Abrams made national headlines as the first black female gubernatorial candidate to be nominated by a major party when she ran in 2018. She ultimately lost but refused to concede to Republican Brian Kemp who signed the heartbeat bill into law after taking office. Some expect a Kemp-Abrams rematch in 2022.
Kemp said the backlash from Hollywood does not change his position: He supports life and the film industry tax credit. He canceled a trip to visit Hollywood in May given wind of potential protests.