Written by Jennifer Caires, CNN
JoAnna Garcia Swisher , Maurice Benard and Robert Palmer Watkins have left ABC’s “General Hospital” due to concerns over the mandated immunization program in California.
According to ABC, the actors decided to leave the show to avoid creating distractions. “It’s important to ABC, producers and actors to continue to stay focused on the great work that is being done on the show,” the network said in a statement.
ABC confirmed to CNN that the actors chose to leave “General Hospital” before the California bill was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week and months before it came into effect on October 1.
The trio, who play Robin Scorpio-Drake, Luke Spencer and Robert Scorpio, were not asked to leave the show “until those issues were resolved,” according to the statement.
JoAnna Garcia Swisher
“There are many actors who understand and support their stance on vaccines and would have enthusiastically continued to work on General Hospital had the situation been allowed to continue on an even playing field,” the statement continued.
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“There is no confusion about the actor’s positions on this issue and ABC and producers stand behind the actor’s courageous decision,” it concluded.
The actors reportedly notified the network of their decision days before California Governor Jerry Brown signed the mandatory vaccination bill into law.
Tim Medlock, ABC’s head of talent negotiations, confirmed to CNN that the actors had chosen to leave “General Hospital” because of their anti-vaccination stance.
The California bill, signed by Brown last week, requires most children to be vaccinated against four childhood diseases before starting school.
It became law on October 1, meaning the mandatory vaccine bill has passed into law, no matter what ABC says.
ABC rejected the claims that the actors were chosen to leave as a result of the California legislation.
“The actors themselves knew what their exact roles would be going forward, and we were not aware of any career impact until after their contracts had expired,” ABC said in a statement.
“It’s unfortunate that people continue to make a difference about an issue that does not impact our daily work and is not perceived by the majority of soap opera actors,” the network added.
“Since passing California law the states of Pennsylvania and Florida have added language to their state laws to prevent this situation from happening again. “
It added: “Disney did not intend to exert any kind of impact on issues of this nature, and nor does Disney want to be the subject of either popular or political interest over this issue.
“Disney does not support any anti-vaccination sentiment, nor any other action that runs counter to current medical research and best practices in the medical community.”