A federal judge has sidelined at least temporarily a Georgia law that would place new restrictions on abortion, a measure that already has drawn threats from filmmakers and some studios that they would consider pulling production from the state if the legislation is fully implemented.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs who are challenging the legislation, known as the “heartbeat bill.” It would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation in May, and it was to go into effect on January 1. Supporters have been hoping that a case will make its way to the Supreme Court and challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
In his decision, Jones wrote that “by prohibiting a woman from terminating her pregnancy after a fetal heartbeat is detected, [the law] bans abortions prior to the point of viability.” The fetal heartbeat typically is detected in the first six weeks of a pregnancy.
He wrote that the law was “in direct conflict with current Supreme Court precedent, which this Court is bound by and must follow” and that the plaintiffs “have therefore established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” Groups such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood challenged the legislation.
A number of content creators expressed their dismay as the law was making it through Georgia Legislature. With generous production incentives, Georgia has become a production center is the U.S., responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages, according to the Motion Picture Association.
Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger said in May that it would be “very difficult” for the company to shoot in the state if the law took effect. Disney’s Marvel unit has shot a number of superhero tentpoles in the state, including Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame. Netflix also said that it would “rethink its entire investment” in the state should the law be implemented.
Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement that the case “has always been about one thing: letting her decide. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but every woman is entitled to her own decision.”