David Simon, a television writer who created the acclaimed HBO series "The Wire," says he will no longer shoot a forthcoming project in Texas because of the state's new law that makes nearly all abortions illegal.
Simon tweeted on Monday that even though the script for his miniseries is set in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, he "can't and won't ask female cast/crew to forgo civil liberties to film there."
"If an employer, this is beyond politics," Simon said.
The Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office, an organization that promotes film, TV, advertising and other entertainment ventures in the city, later responded to Simon and advocated for him to shoot the project in the area.
"Laws of a state are not reflective of its entire population," the organization tweeted. "Not bringing a production to Dallas (a big "D") only serves to further disenfranchise those that live here. We need talent/crew/creatives to stay & vote, not get driven out by inability to make a living."
In response, Simon said that the organization had misunderstood his point.
"My response is NOT rooted in any debate about political efficacy or the utility of any boycott," Simon wrote. "My singular responsibility is to securing and maintaining the civil liberties of all those we employ during the course of a production."
On Thursday, Simon responded to a follower who called his decision not to film in the city a "boycott."
"Dead wrong. I am mute on any boycott. I am instead an employer and I personally must decide if it is ethical to ask employees to enter a jurisdiction which requires them to forgo THEIR civil liberties," Simon wrote. "It is not ethical for me to do so. Texas requires this forced move. Not me."
The new Texas law, SB8, deems any abortion illegal if a physician can detect a fetal heartbeat. That typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy — before most women even know they are pregnant. The law does not make exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
The law specifically prohibits state officials from enforcing the law. Instead, it calls on private citizens to file lawsuits against anyone "aiding or abetting" an illegal abortion — be it a doctor, a clinic staff member or a person who drives a woman to an appointment. Those who are successfully sued are liable for a payment of $10,000.
While a woman's Constitutional right to an abortion is currently protected under the legal precedent set in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court chose to let the Texas law go into effect while lower courts work through lawsuits that were filed in an attempt to stop the law.
President Joe Biden has promised a "whole-of-government response" to protect a woman's right to an abortion. This week, the Justice Department asked a federal court to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction against the law.
Simon is a two-time Emmy winner and created renowned HBO series like "The Wire, "Treme" and "The Deuce."