The Georgia state legislature has passed a controversial fetal heartbeat bill Saturday, despite protests from actors and business executives.
H.B. 481, which would prohibit abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, passed a March 30 vote in the House of Representatives by a vote of 92 to 78--just one above the 91 votes needed for passage.
An earlier draft of the bill had already been passed the House, with an amended version passed by the Senate last week before coming back to the House floor on Saturday. Governor Brian Kemp (R) has said that he will sign the bill.
Ahead of the vote, a group of 50 actors and actresses threatened a campaign to move film and television production out of Georgia should the bill become law. Led by Alyssa Milano, former star of TV show Who’s the Boss and direct-to-video film Poison Ivy II, the group co-signed an open letter urging Kemp and the state speaker of the house to re-think passage of the bill.
Owing to a program of generous tax incentives for the entertainment business, Georgia has eclipsed California as the center of the film production industry in the United States. Over the weekend, the actors were joined by corporate executives from Coca-cola and Amazon in objecting to the bill’s progress.
After the bill was passed, many of the Hollywood figures took to Twitter to criticize the legislation, with many repeating their pledge to pull business out of the state.
“If Georgia is going to stop pretending it cares about women’s rights by banning abortion, we should stop pretending we want to go there for work,” said Chelsea Handler, star of National Lampoon’s Cattle Call and other productions.
Former stand-up comedian turned director Judd Apatow agreed, saying “I guess we won’t be shooting movies and TV in Georgia anymore if this moves forward.”
One actress who did not join in on the calls for boycott was Ashley Bratcher, star of the newly-released pro-life film “Unplanned.” Bratcher, herself a resident of Georgia, wrote a rebuttal to Milano defending H.B. 481 and the sanctity of life.
“Unplanned,” which tells the story of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson’s ideological conversion, had a successful opening weekend at the box office, doubling many projections for its initial receipts.
“Unplanned” earned $6.1 million, placing it in fifth place overall nationwide, and came in third for its per-screen average.
Vice President Mike Pence issued his own message of support for the film on Monday, calling it a “deeply inspiring” film via his Twitter account.
“More and more Americans are embracing the sanctity of life because of powerful stories like this one,” said Pence.
Although Gov. Kemp is expected to sign the bill into law, it is unlikely to come into force. Similar legislation in other states has been subject to immediate legal challenge, with court’s striking down heartbeat laws in Iowa and North Dakota as unconstitutional.