Abortion rights campaigners urge entertainment industry to extend US boycott to NI

Abortion rights campaigners urge entertainment industry to extend US boycott to NI

Five Southern US states have signed so-called heartbeat bills prohibiting abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Louisiana's governor yesterday signed a ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy - joining Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia in enacting such a law.

Alabama has gone further, outlawing virtually all abortions.

Planned Parenthood has called the bans "unprecedented and extreme attacks on abortion" and opponents of the bills have said that they would effectively eliminate abortion as an option before many women realise they are pregnant and would violate constitutional privacy protections.

As the debate on abortion laws in the US continues, many in the entertainment industry have been vocal about their stance.

Actress and late night host Busy Philipps used the final episode of her E! Entertainment show, Busy Tonight, to speak about her own experience with abortion and as a resulted started the hashtag #YouKnowMe which saw women all over the US come forward with their own personal stories.

Both Netflix and Disney have threatened to pull production in Georgia as a result of the state's new abortion laws.

Netflix's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, has said that he would consider pulling production of shows such as Stranger Things which is among the streaming network's shows that film in the state.

Meanwhile, Disney chief executive Bob Iger has commented that should the law come into effect in Georgia then it would be "difficult" for the company to continue filming there.

As both Netflix and Disney have filmed in Northern Ireland where there is a complete ban on abortion, questions have been raised about whether the companies will take the same steps when it comes to filming in the North.

Neither company has commented on whether they will be filming in the North in the future and has drawn criticism from groups such as Alliance for Choice.

Speaking to the Guardian, Emma Campbell, co-chair of Alliance for Choice said: "It shouldn't be one rule for Georgia and one rule for Northern Ireland.

"There needs to be some consistency."

Companies like Disney making a public statement could put political pressure on in a way that an actual activist group like ourselves just can't.

A number of actors have vowed not to work in states that introduce the restrictive laws among them is Games of Thrones star Sophie Turner.

While promoting her new film, Dark Phoenix, Turner's co-star Jessica Chastain revealed that she had signed a letter that says "I'm not going to work in any state that denies right for women, for the LGBTQ community, for anyone".

Speaking during an interview with Sky News, Turner said that she had also signed the letter.

When it was put to Turner that "similar laws" to those proposed in the US states were in place in the North where much of Game of Thrones was filmed, Turner said: "Luckily, we're moving on".

Abortion rights campaigners on Twitter called on the X-Men actress to show similar support for those in Northern Ireland.

Derry Girls actress Nicola Coughlan, an outspoken campaigner for reproductive rights, took to Twitter as well to ask whether the stars that signed the letter would extend the same show of support to the North.

Coughlan clarified that she would never boycott working in Northern Ireland saying: "I absolutely love working there and feel like my time is better spent supporting the women there by speaking out in interviews, protesting...Just saying these actors shouldn't ignore NI."

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