New York, May 12: Actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano has urged women to take part in a "sex strike" to protest against a new abortion law in the state of Georgia.
"Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy," she tweeted. Georgia is the latest state to enact legislation restricting abortion, said a BBC News report on Sunday.Ms Milano's tweet divided opinion on social media, sparking a debate that led to the #SexStrike hashtag trending on Twitter in the US.
The so-called "heartbeat" bill, which was signed by Governor Brian Kemp on Tuesday, is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January. The law bans abortions as soon as a foetal heartbeat can be detected - which is at about six weeks into a pregnancy. Many women do not know they are pregnant by six weeks, with morning sickness usually starting after about nine weeks.
However, the law is expected to face challenges in the courts.
A federal judge blocked such a law in Kentucky which was scheduled to come into effect immediately as it could be unconstitutional, while Mississippi passed a six-week abortion law in March that is not due to take effect until July and is also facing challenges. Ohio passed a similarly restrictive law in 2016 which was vetoed by the governor.
Ms Milano tweeted out her call for action on Saturday, and both she and the hashtag #SexStrike were soon trending on Twitter. More than 35,000 people have liked her tweet, and it has been retweeted more than 12,000 times. Fellow actress Bette Midler tweeted in support of Ms Milano.
But there was an immediate backlash online, both from those who support the new law and from those who criticised the idea that women only have sex to please men.
"I appreciate the intent, but a #sexstrike is a bad and sexist idea," wrote one person on Twitter. "As if we provided sex as a reward to the worthy. It's denying women's pleasure". "Self-denial and abstinence for some sort of gain is the antithesis of a sexually empowered world," wrote another.
In her defence, Ms Milano later tweeted a Quartz article about how sex strikes can work - prompting further criticism online.
During the abortion bill's passage, 50 actors proposed a boycott of film and television production in the state - including Ms Milano, Amy Schumer, Christina Applegate, Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn. "We want to stay in Georgia," the letter reads. "But we will not do so silently, and we will do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women if [this] becomes law."
Other actors have also voiced their support, as have the heads of several independent production companies. (UNI)