Sensing one of those “now-or-never” historical moments, regressive political, religious and social forces have passed a wave of laws that ban or severely restrict women’s reproductive rights in a growing number of US states, in the ultimate hope that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority will soon strike a fatal blow to Roe v. Wade. One of the most draconian of these new laws was signed earlier this month by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R). House Bill 481, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, prohibits women from terminating their pregnancies after a fetal “heartbeat” (a problematically inaccurate term) is first detected, which can be as early as around six weeks — before many women even know they’re pregnant.
Unlike Alabama’s even stricter law — which provides no exceptions in cases of rape or incest, setting up a scenario in which a father who rapes and impregnates his daughter could very well serve a far shorter prison sentence than a doctor who performs an abortion on the victim, Georgia’s HB 481 does allow abortions in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is endangered. In both Georgia and Alabama, Republican governors have explained their bans as an affirmation of the sanctity of life, while approving state-sanctioned homicides — better known as executions — within days of the abortion bans, and without any apparent sense of irony or hypocrisy.
In recent decades, Georgia has become known as the “Hollywood of the South” as tax and other incentives have attracted so much film and TV production to the state that it surpassed California as the shooting location for the highest-grossing domestic films in 2017. While some smaller production companies, as well as numerous producers and actors, have vowed to boycott Georgia in the wake of HB 481, the entertainment industry has, on the whole, been shamefully silent as one state after another passes anti-abortion laws that many critics have noted look like something out of the early days of the dystopian future imagined in the Margaret Atwood novel-turned-Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale.
Unlike Atwood, Hulu, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, hasn’t spoken out against any of the recent anti-choice laws or bills. But two of its main competitors have — and more. First, Reed Morano, who directed three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and who was set to direct Amazon Studios’ new show The Power in Georgia, announced it would no longer be produced in the state. It’s an appropriate reaction for a show adopted from a Naomi Alderman novel in which women suddenly develop world-changing superpowers — or any show, for that matter.
And now, Variety reports that another of Hulu’s competitors, Netflix, has vowed to join forces with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to challenge Georgia’s anti-choice law in court and, if necessary, reconsider the company’s investment in the state. “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.”
It’s a pretty substantial investment — Netflix hits including Stranger Things and Ozark are produced in the state. The problem, of course, is that with so much production occurring in Georgia, boycotts equal lost profits and if there’s one thing that every industry values more than anything it’s the almighty dollar. That’s why today we salute Netflix for being the only Hollywood studio to speak out against these alarming attacks against women’s rights to choose what to do with their own bodies.