Netflix intimidates Georgia over heartbeat abortion ban

29 May 2019

Ted Sarandos netflix
Ted Sarandos of Netflix said they will work to fight the Georgia bill in court.

"Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.” 

Before the Governor of Georgia had even signed a new bill banning most abortions after six weeks, a whole slew of Hollywood celebrities had signed a letter threatening to boycott the state should it come into effect.

Celebrity wrath at "evil" bill

More than 40 celebrities (led by Alyssa Milano, who notoriously called for a “sex-strike” after another abortion ban in Alabama) wrote to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston, saying: “We can’t imagine being elected officials who had to say to their constituents, 'I enacted a law that was so evil, it chased billions of dollars out of our state’s economy.' It’s not the most effective campaign slogan, but rest assured we’ll make it yours should it come to pass."

Georgia is a prime location for filming movies and television shows, thanks to the generous tax breaks the state offers. This perhaps explains why most media companies have kept silent on calls to boycott Georgia, leaving such threats to individual actors and directors.

Netflix speaks out

However, Netflix, which uses Georgia as a production site for numerous original projects, including series such as “Insatiable” and “Ozark,” has now revealed that it is funding an organisation fighting abortion bans, and has threatened to “rethink our entire investment” if the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (L.I.F.E.) Act becomes law.

“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.” 

Will it work?

An economic boycott might be a more intimidating way to oppose pro-life laws than Alyssa Milano’s sex strike, but whether actively opposing a law that protects human life goes down well with Netflix’s millions of subscribers remains to be seen.

Governor Kemp has so far seemed impervious to the threats, saying at the time of the open letter: "I do not think it will hurt the film industry in Georgia or any other business whatsoever. Us sticking up for our Georgia values and protecting life is not going to create a bad business environment in Georgia, I can promise you."