A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could be coming soon from the U.S. Supreme Court. This ruling could put the banning or keeping abortions legal in the hands of states. A ban on abortions by states could have an impact on filming locations, sporting events and company headquarters.
What Happened: Among the industries reacting to a potential overturning of Roe v. Wade are movie and television studios. WGA West (Writers Guild of America West) is pushing for Hollywood studios to stop filming movies and television shows in states that ban abortions.
“In light of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion rights, we want to reaffirm our Guild’s commitment to fighting on our members’ behalf against inequality and discrimination,” the Guild’s Board of Directors said. “Women’s rights are human rights, and any laws that ban or limit a woman’s right to choose are dangerous and set a precedent for further erosion of our collective civil rights.”
The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 actors and live theater stage managers, also spoke out about the potential ruling.
“We support bodily autonomy for all. We stand opposed to any efforts by the Supreme Court, or any other body, to roll back human rights. We stand opposed to oppression. We stand in solidarity,” the organization said.
The Actors’ Equity Association did not say they would push for a ban against states that make abortion illegal, instead choosing to show solidarity at this point ahead of a potential ruling.
Past History: The state of Georgia is no stranger to controversy and seeing companies speak out over a hotly debated topic.
A law passed by the state of Georgia over voting rights led to several companies issuing statements or taking their business elsewhere.
“We unequivocally believe in the importance of all Americans having an equal right to vote and oppose the recent Georgia voting rights law,” the company said.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) also spoke out on the Voting Rights Act and highlighted a state such as Virginia that had strong voting rights and was the pick for Amazon’s second headquarters.
“The ability to vote is one of the most prized fundamental rights in our American democracy, and Amazon supports policies that protect and expand those rights,” Amazon SVP Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney said.
The Writers Guild also previously spoke out about the Voting Rights Act in Georgia as did the Screen Actors Guild. No boycotts were directly called out by large media governing bodies.
Major League Baseball was among the biggest opposers of the Georgia law with the announcement that the league would move its All-Star Game and MLB Draft from Atlanta, home of the publicly traded Liberty Braves Group (NASDAQ:BATRA).
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said.
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Why It’s Important: Media companies spoke out previously against the “heartbeat” abortion bill from Georgia in 2019. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Georgia and other states could soon declare abortion illegal within the state boundary.
The state of Georgia is one of the largest filming locations for movies and televisions thanks to state subsidies that hit a record $1.2 billion in 2021, according to Variety.
Several actors and directors changed their filming locations from Georgia or vowed not to work in the state if the “heartbeat” bill went into effect. Jason Bateman, who stars in “Ozark” on Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX), was among those who said he would never work in the state again if the law went into effect.
Mark Duplass, who has previously worked on movies for Netflix and has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Discovery Inc (NASDAQ:WBD) unit HBO, also said he would avoid Georgia for his productions.
Netflix was one of the first media companies to have a statement issued by co-CEO Ted Sarandos stating where the company stood.
“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,” Sarandos said.
One of the biggest shows to film in Georgia is “The Walking Dead,” from AMC Networks Inc (NASDAQ:AMCX). The company said at the time that it would “reevaluate our activity in Georgia” if the law went into effect.
Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) recently found itself in the middle of a battle against the state of Florida over its comments on the “don’t say gay” law. In 2019, former Disney CEO Bob Iger said that it would likely avoid Georgia in the future if it passed the law.
“I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there (Georgia),” Iger said. “I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.”
Several Marvel films and television shows feature Georgia as a filming location.
Other media companies had similar wait-and-see approaches that could not be put into question by investors, analysts and the public.
Other states mentioned that have large film subsidies that could also overturn abortion laws include Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas.
Media companies and other sectors will likely find themselves in a can’t win battle with the country divided over Roe v. Wade. Companies will be pushed to put out statements on where they stand and many that operate in states such as Georgia will see pressure to make changes.
Photo: Joel Muniz on Unsplash