Netflix is threatening to “rethink” its Georgia productions after the state approved new restrictions on abortion. But, in a country that’s split on the issue of abortion, the streaming giant may want to “rethink” its proposition.
In light of its past decisions, Netflix’s warning comes as no surprise. The company has a history with abortion and, in particular, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Not only have multiple Netflix shows worked together with Planned Parenthood, but also, Netflix employees have donated tens of thousands to the organization.
Netflix’s Georgia comments came shortly after Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told Variety in a statement on May 28. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
The following day, Disney followed suit, with CEO Bob Iger expressing it will be “very difficult” for Disney to continue its Georgia productions with the new law.
But, according to outside spending data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Disney doesn’t come close to Netflix’s monetary relationship with Planned Parenthood. CRP ranks Netflix, Inc. as 34th in top donors to Planned Parenthood in 2018. Individuals affiliated with Netflix gave $19,500 that year, and the organization gave $10,000.
Those individuals, according to CRP, were Scott Domann, Kelly Galuska, Annabeth Gish, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Gil Ozeri. They were all categorized as giving “Money to SuperPAC/Outside Group,” with the recipient being “Planned Parenthood/Los Angeles County.”
Those names match with names working for Netflix. A Scott Domann serves as Netflix’s director of talent. A Kelly Galuska has worked as a producer for Netflix’s shows, Big Mouth and BoJack Horseman. An Annabeth Gish starred in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. An Andrew Goldberg is executive producer of Big Mouth. Both Mark Levin and Gil Ozeri are listed as writers for Big Mouth.
It’s no accident that Big Mouth pops up several times. In 2018, the show’s writers toured a Planned Parenthood to prepare for an episode promoting the nation’s largest abortion provider. Their inspiration came after Sue Dunlap, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, told an audience of writers and producers that, while their donations were helpful, “what would really help is stories that involve Planned Parenthood in your shows and movies,” according to one of the actors.
They heeded her call.
Besides Big Mouth, Planned Parenthood has served as an advisor to Netflix show creators for abortion scenes, like the one in GLOW in 2017. Multiple Netflix shows have had abortion in them, from Sex Education in 2019 to BoJack Horseman in 2016.
Other Netflix productions are slanted on abortion while claiming to be neutral. Last September, the streaming service advertised and released Reversing Roe, a documentary focused on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide. While Netflix praised the film for “riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide” and staying “unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story,” that didn’t happen. Thirteen women who supported abortion appeared in the documentary while only one pro-life woman made an appearance. The filmmakers had the opportunity to change this: Several pro-life women confirmed they had been interviewed for the project – some for days.
But poll numbers show Netflix should reconsider its ties to abortion and the abortion industry. Recent polls find a majority of Americans say laws banning abortion after six weeks, when an unborn baby’s heartbeat becomes detectable, are not “too restrictive.”
This keeps in line with other, past polls showing the pro-life movement is alive and well in the United States. Earlier this year, a Marist poll found 75 percent of Americans say abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy. And, last summer, a Gallup poll discovered that 48 percent of Americans call themselves “pro-life,” the same percentage who identify as “pro-choice.”
In April, Netflix boasted 60.2 million subscribers located in the United States. On top of its past moves, if Netflix “rethinks” its filming based on abortion restrictions, U.S. viewers are going to “rethink” their watching. Money talks – in more ways than one.