The Wire creator avoids filming new show in Texas over abortion law

·3 min read
David Simon
David Simon said he "can't and won't ask female cast/crew to forgo civil liberties to film" in Texas

David Simon, who created the Emmy-nominated US crime series The Wire, has said he will not film his forthcoming show in Texas, due to a new law there restricting access to abortions.

The new law bans abortion from as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

"As an employer, this is beyond politics," Simon posted on Twitter. "I can't and won't ask female cast/crew to forgo civil liberties to film there.

He also asked his followers to suggest alternative filming locations.

The new law came into effect on 1 September and does not allow abortions after the detection of what anti-abortion campaigners call a foetal heartbeat, something medical authorities say is misleading.

The law is heavily criticised by doctors and women's rights groups and is one of the most restrictive in the country. It took effect after the Supreme Court did not respond to an emergency appeal by abortion providers.

Simon's forthcoming project is not yet officially announced, but he said he is "turning in scripts next month on an HBO non-fiction miniseries based on events in Texas", which is why he is now looking for substitute locations.

"What else looks like Dallas / [Fort] Worth?" he asked on Twitter, encouraging his followers to help him find an alternative.

But the Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office did not support Simon's decision. They tweeted: "Laws of a state are not reflective of its entire population. Not bringing a production to Dallas only serves to further disenfranchise those that live here.

"We need talent/crew/creatives to stay and vote, not get driven out by inability to make a living."

Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday on 1 September
Protests have been held against the new legislation outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin

In response, Simon said the group misunderstood him, and that his decision was not "rooted in any debate about political efficacy or the utility of any boycott".

He said his "singular responsibility" is to "securing and maintaining the civil liberties of all those we employ during the course of a production".

In a later tweet, he added: "My first obligation as an employer is to the people working on the production. I can't ask them to locate in Texas and forgo civil liberties. Not ethical. Ever."

Most abortion restrictions which have been proposed before have relied on criminal penalties or some form of regulatory punishment. But the Texas law instead authorises "a private civil right of action", which allows people to sue to enforce the law even if they themselves have not been harmed.

In September 2019, a US federal judge temporarily blocked a strict new abortion law in the state of Georgia that would have banned terminations as early as six weeks into pregnancy. In May that year, there were calls for a Hollywood boycott from actors and production companies.

A number of US media giants went on to publicly state they would reconsider filming in Georgia if the state's strict new abortion law takes effect. Disney, Netflix and WarnerMedia all objected to the legislation.

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