Banff: AMC Exec Talks Rethinking Georgia Filming for 'The Walking Dead' Amid Abortion Bill

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Sarah Barnett

"I personally consider this a civil rights issue," Sarah Barnett, president of entertainment networks at AMC Networks, said during a panel that was moderated by Alison Brower, deputy editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter.

Sarah Barnett, president of entertainment networks at AMC Networks, on Monday came out strongly against the new, restrictive abortion bill in Georgia, where AMC's hit series The Walking Dead is produced.

"I'm very, very glad that our company issued a statement that said if this restrictive legislation goes into law, then we will reconsider our activity in Georgia," Barnett told the Banff World Media Festival after AMC, which films its tentpole TV series in Georgia, said it will "reevaluate our activity" in the state if the abortion legislation becomes law.

"I personally consider this a civil rights issue. If women don't have reproductive autonomy, we can't participate in society. That's my personal perspective," the exec added during a panel that was moderated by Alison Brower, deputy editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter.

Barnett said AMC's civil rights stance around Georgia's abortion legislation, which could have the media company shun the state, would have a huge impact on employment for local production crews that have long shot The Walking Dead. "It really is like a family, with relationships built with people who have worked on the show for a long time," she said.

Besides being a production powerhouse for Georgia's TV sector, The Walking Dead brings fans as tourists to towns in the state where production takes place.

Barnett argued the issue of Georgia's new abortion law, which was signed by the governor on May 7, goes beyond that state as other Southern states have followed with their own restrictive abortion legislation. "This issue is in many ways bigger than Georgia. It will get to the Supreme Court. That's likely the intention behind this legislation," she insisted.

"At this particular moment, I personally feel that any attempt to roll back rights that have been acquired is not good for gender equality," Barnett told Banff delegates.

The Banff World Media Festival continues through Wednesday.