Gov. Pete Wilson has signed into law a statute prohibiting the use of premature infants in film and TV productions.
This comes in response to concerns that some producers were using premature babies, who were not sufficiently developed, to portray newborns.
The statute requires that any baby under a month old used in a production be certified by a physician as having been carried to full term and born at normal birth weight, be at least 15 days old and be sufficiently developed and physically able to handle the stresses of filmmaking. Violations are punishable by fines of $2,500 to $5,000 and jail time up to 60 days.
The bill was co-authored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Sheila Kuehl and Assemblyman Carl Washington after Kuehl was approached by the Screen Actors Guild.
“I was really shocked to find out that even though there is a state law saying you can’t use an infant until 16 days after birth, some production companies would identify babies born prematurely and add 16 days to their birthday,” commented Kuehl. “You want to at least give the child two weeks to thrive.”
“The use of premature infants in film and television production is a new, but growing trend,” said SAG prexy Richard Masur. “With the enactment of this bill, however, we are hopeful that the practice will be entirely curtailed.”