Disney Would Leave Georgia Over Abortion, But Not Jordan

Bob Iger's mass media giant has history of filming in foreign countries with strict laws against abortion

Bob Iger / Getty Images

Disney's chief executive said Wednesday that it would be "very difficult" for the media company to continue filming in Georgia if the state's new law restricting abortions takes effect.

Bob Iger told Reuters that, if the law is implemented, it would be not be "practical for us to continue to shoot" in Georgia.

"I rather doubt we will" continue filming in the state, 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. Right now we are watching it very carefully."

Disney has filmed blockbuster movies in Georgia such as Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame. The state has attracted film and television producers with generous tax breaks.

The law in question, which Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R.) signed on May 7, outlaws most abortions on babies who have a detectable heartbeat, which typically occurs six weeks after conception. The law is due to take effect on Jan. 1, but is expected to face legal challenges before then.

Iger issued his warning to Georgia ahead of the dedication for a new Star Wars section at Disneyland. It is unclear whether Iger, whose company owns the Star Wars franchise, knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a 2015 movie that Disney distributed, was filmed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which outlaws all abortions except when the mother's life is at risk or when the baby has a fatal "abnormality." Even in those situations, doctors can only perform abortions within 120 days of pregnancy.

Disney has recently filmed in other countries with strict laws against abortion. Part of the 2019 film Aladdin, which Disney produced, was shot in Jordan. The Jordanian penal code criminalizes abortion. The only exceptions are fetal impairment, when the mother's life is in danger, and other, limited circumstances to protect her physical and mental health. Otherwise, the mothers—not just the doctors—can be imprisoned.

The Washington Free Beacon could not find any record of Iger expressing reluctance about filming in Jordan or the United Arab Emirates because of their abortion laws.