Politicians and business leaders in Georgia, led by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, are urging businesses not to leave the state over its new abortion law. Instead, they want them to “stay and fight.”
Georgia passed a “heartbeat” bill in early May that outlaws abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around the six-week mark. Several prominent production companies, including Disney, WarnerMedia, and Netflix, have announced they would reconsider filming in the state if the law goes into effect in January 2020.
But a coalition of Democratic politicians and business leaders argue this is the wrong approach, saying boycotting would only deprive working-class people by taking away their jobs, according to the Washington Post.
The #StayAndFight hashtag started with film industry workers rallying against Hollywood’s boycott threat because they feared losing their livelihoods, according to BuzzFeed News. The organizers said they feared being punished for the actions of politicians and expressed doubt about the effectiveness of a boycott in actually reversing the law. This frustration has prompted them to group together and form the “Stay and Fight Georgia” initiative, which is also raising money to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
Abrams amplified their message last week:
Georgia stands to lose Netflix & Disney. This means lost jobs for carpenters, hair dressers, food workers & 100s of small businesses grown right here. Billions in economic investment headed to states eager to welcome film + protect women. #Consequences https://t.co/GVZZFI2myn— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) May 30, 2019
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Abrams encouraged the film industry to “stay and fight alongside every woman that lives here.” The coalition encourages Hollywood to donate money to political candidates and groups that can challenge the law.
Boycotts have forced states to change controversial laws before. North Carolina repealed its “bathroom bill,” which would have forced transgender people to use restrooms that don’t match their gender identities, after an economic boycott in 2016. Lawmakers in Indiana amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act after an outcry about LGBTQ rights led to boycotts and threatened boycotts in 2015.
In those cases, too, some progressive groups argued against the boycotts because they’d hurt working-class people. But in Georgia, the campaign seems to have taken hold: Abrams will join NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue to meet Hollywood figures in Los Angeles on June 11 to talk about the “reality that employees in the state may not have full access to healthcare or the freedom to make decisions about their futures and their families, ”according to the Atlantic Journal-Constitution.
Her message is clear: Stay in Georgia and help fund the fight against the abortion ban.
In some cases, the message seems to be getting through. Some production companies have decided to stay in Georgia. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele announced they would continue to film their upcoming HBO series Lovecraft Country in the state but promised to donate their respective fees to the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia, a voting rights group founded by Abrams, according to Variety.
For more on the heartbeat bills being introduced around the country, read Vox’s explainer.