By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein, and Tamar Hallerman | Atlanta Journal-Constitution | May 9, 2019
When noting the silence that has greeted Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of House Bill 481, which would require most women to carry their pregnancies to term once the fetus is about six weeks old, it is important to note the date the law will go into effect: Jan. 1, 2020.
The ACLU has promised a lawsuit to overturn the “heartbeat” law. Elements in Hollywood have pledged a boycott Georgia’s rising movie and TV industry. Neither has occurred – and the fact that the law won’t kick in for another eight months is one reason.
“It’s the start date, and also the complexity of the bill,” Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia told us this morning. “If this were just a straight, six-week abortion ban the law on that would be clear on its face. This has so many elements to it that have been cobbled together.”
There is the “personhood” issue – the new Georgia law gives a delicate collection of cells the size of the fingernail on your little finger the full legal status of a standalone human being. A maze of protections and penalties for physicians – and the women who undergo abortions – must be sorted out, Young said.
“We want to do a completely comprehensive filing. There are so many concepts in here that don’t have any context in Georgia law. They’ve not been explored,” the ACLU leader said.
Young agreed that the “heartbeat” laws delayed effective date is one reason there’s been no film industry stampede out of the state. But Georgia could see a decline in new ventures in the coming months, she said.
“People are not starting new projects here. Apple has green-lighted a project that is going to New York. They’re not going to come to Atlanta. It was a 10-episode sci-fi drama by one of the “X-men” creators,” Young said. “These projects, to sustain the industry, have to constantly be refreshed with new projects.”
On Wednesday, David Simon, writer/producer best known for “The Wire” , took to Twitter to say he would not shoot any new projects in Georgia:
“I can’t ask any female member of any film production with which I am involved to so marginalize themselves or compromise their inalienable authority over their own bodies. I must undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact. Other filmmakers will see this.”
One of the coarser calls to action has come from Charles Finch, an author and book reviewer for prominent publications, urged his Twitter followers not to let Gov. Brian Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston and state Rep. Ed Setzler eat in public undisturbed: “Protest at their houses. Make their faces infamous.”
But for now, it appears that such eruptions will be individual ones.
IndieWire, a website devoted to the independent film industry, looked at Hollywood’s slow response to Georgia in a piece posted Wednesday. If you’re interested in this state’s film industry, it’s worth your time. A taste:
For those inclined to make a stand against the Heartbeat Bill, the issue of when is unclear. The film and TV industry has spent over a decade steadily building infrastructure in Atlanta that has allowed Hollywood to take full advantage of the state’s uncapped tax incentive. Unlike other states’ incentives, Georgia’s includes 30 percent back on above-the-line costs (like actors’ and directors’ salaries) in addition to below-the-line costs…
...Sources tell IndieWire that they don’t know what a Georgia boycott could accomplish as this plays out in the courts. The ability to influence state politicians on this issue has passed. The impact would be on Hollywood itself, the vendors and crew that have relocated to the state, and its own bottom line. Hollywood brought more dollars back from Georgia ($800 million) during the 2018 fiscal year than the New York, New Mexico and California rebates combined.
That could change, the piece acknowledged, on Jan. 2, 2020.
PHOTO CAPTION: Georgia state troopers keep watch as a crowd of pro-choice protestors rally outside of the state Capitol after signing of HB 481 in Atlanta on Tuesday.