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Hollywood's elite threatens Georgia boycott over abortion ban as other states try to poach business

Georgia governor to sign abortion ban bill

Members of Hollywood's elite have banded together to urge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to veto the state's controversial "heartbeat bill," a piece of legislation that would effectively prohibit women from seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile, the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have jumped at the opportunity to lure Georgia's entertainment business by advertising their own tax incentives and pro-abortion rights laws.

A petition started by Alyssa Milano, who's currently in Atlanta shooting for the Netflix show "Insatiable," was signed by more than 100 celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin and Judd Apatow. Milano wrote that if the bill passed, "we cannot in good conscience continue to recommend our industry remain in Georgia."

The Writers Guild of America, East and West (WGA) wrote in a letter shared on Twitter that they "urge Gov. Kemp to veto the bill."

The letter from the WGA also noted that if members were to boycott filming in Georgia, "the cost would be most deeply felt by the residents of Georgia — including those who directly work in the film and television industry, and those who benefit from the many millions of dollars it pours into the local economy."

Movies and television are big business for Georgia, which rolled out a series of tax incentives in 2008 to lure Hollywood to the state. After California and New York, Georgia is now often listed as the number three production center. A 2016 study from Film L.A. found that 17 of the top 100 movies that year were filmed in Georgia.

At an event in March, Kemp said the entertainment industry employs 200,000 Georgians and generated more than $60 billion of economic activities for the state.

In the wake of the "heartbeat bill" controversy, other states have jumped to advertise their own film tax incentives. Pennsylvania Gov. John Shapiro  tweeted on Sunday, "Roe is the law — I protect it every day. Any state that guts women's rights won't succeed." Shapiro then tweeted out the various entertainment projects that would be eligible for tax incentives in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted he and his wife were meeting "with film industry reps in CA to make the case for choosing NJ over anti-choice states like GA."

"States that claim to be a good value for business need to demonstrate the right values, including standing up for women's rights," he tweeted.

Stacey Abrams, who lost to Kemp for the Georgia governor's seat in November, also chimed in, tweeting, "Georgia is the only international film hub threatening to limit a woman's access to care. This hasn't been an issue before because LA, NYC, Vancouver & Toronto know better."

Georgia's so-called "heartbeat bill" — officially known as the "Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act" — received its final approval from the state's House on Friday, and could be signed into law any day by the governor, who's repeatedly expressed support for the bill.

"The legislature's bold action reaffirmed our priorities and who we are as a state," Kemp tweeted on Friday. "I thank these lawmakers for their leadership and applaud their undeniable courage."

If passed, the legislation would be one of the most restrictive pieces of anti-abortion access laws in the country. The bill has received intense scrutiny from abortion rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen, who called the bill "a dangerous policy designed to block abortion access before many women even know they're pregnant."

States around the country have pursued similar legislation, though none have been successful in implementing the bans. Republican governors in Mississippi and Kentucky have recently signed heartbeat abortion bans, while lawmakers in Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and Ohio have introduced similar legislation.

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