by Steven Ertelt
February 27, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — Because South Dakota lawmakers had the temerity to approve a ban on virtually all abortions in the state, abortion advocates are encouraging residents of other states to boycott taking a vacation or trip to one of the nation’s most visited states.
The Wisconsin-based Women’s Medical Fund, which collects funds to pay for low-income women to have abortions, is calling for the travel boycott.
"Women across the country and those who believe in women’s rights need to act immediately to let South Dakotans know that we will bypass South Dakota," the group’s Annie Laurie Gaylor told the Associated Press.
Gaylor encouraged abortion advocates to boycott popular tourist destinations like Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and the Badlands and the Corn Palace.
Combined with the Crazy Horse memorial, numerous national and state parks, caves and native American festivals, South Dakota is a popular place for summer travelers. The densely populated state depends heavily on tourism to go along with farming as its major economic resources.
Terri Ellis Schmidt of the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau told AP the state depends heavily on its $2 billion annually it makes from tourism.
"It’s the bread and butter of a lot of people’s livelihoods," she said.
"We know Sioux Falls is also a destination spot for tourists and convention-goers and they may stay longer and go to the Black Hills, so what’s good for one of us is good for all and what’s bad for one is bad for all of us," she explained.
A group of Democrat bloggers have also suggested a Mount Rushmore boycott and urged bikers who normally attend the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis not to go.
The boycotts don’t appear to be having much of an effect so far.
Billie Jo Waara, director of the state Department of Tourism said they were having a "minimal effect" according to AP and Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Association President Bill Honerkamp said his office has received only one email complaining about the abortion ban.
"It’s a little difficult for me to understand that this would gain any political leverage," he said of those opposed to the bill.
The ban could have the oppose effect, by prompting pro-life people to scheduled trips to South Dakota.
Leslee Unruh, president of the Alpha Center pregnancy center in Sioux Falls says she knows of people who are making trips to South Dakota because of the abortion ban.
"I think we’ve got a lot of people who are going to respect the state more now," Unruh told the Associated Press.