Hollywood’s Abortion Backlash & CAA Fat-Trimming

Katie McGrath
Producer and activist Katie McGrath. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
June 26, 2022

Did you hear about this meeting? Yesterday morning, a few dozen women in Hollywood and other industries jumped on Zoom to strategize how to respond to the repeal of Roe v. Wade. The gathering, which was quickly assembled amid the widespread outrage by producer and activist Katie McGrath, CAA’s Maha Dakhil, consultant Ngoc Nguyen, and Rebecca Goldman and Catherine St-Laurent of the philanthropy consultancy Acora Partners, began with the reading of an Amanda Gorman poem. Gloria Steinem joined the group, vowing a swift and aggressive response to the rollback of reproductive rights. And the women, which included stars like Amy Schumer, Debra Messing, and Ashley Judd, as well as executives like attorney Nina Shaw, Universal Music Publishing Group C.E.O. Jody Gerson, longtime Glamour editor Cindi Leive, and many others, were provided detailed explanations from doctors and lawyers about the state of play post-Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. And, more importantly, what this group of powerful women can do to help now

It’ll be interesting to see how the entertainment industry responds here. This feels like the beginning of something major. The anger among people I’ve talked to this weekend seems more searing than even at the height of #MeToo and Trump. The next fronts—facilitating travel for women in red states, litigating the issue of whether FDA-approved abortion pills can be distributed in states that have outlawed the procedure, and protecting against further erosion of civil rights—seem like they are now front-and-center for the industry’s donor and activist class. The women on the Zoom were urged to channel their anger into donations to the National Network of Abortion Funds, as soon as possible. 

Still, beyond a strong statement by the Writers Guild board, we haven’t yet seen many calls for Hollywood boycotts of states that ban abortion. I know there’s mixed feelings around town about that tactic, which would largely punish rank-and-file production workers in states like Georgia and Florida if their leaders take action, as expected. But how else can an industry better express its values and create real consequences than through economic sanctions like pulling lucrative productions? We’ll see.