by Steven Ertelt
March 17, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — South Dakota officials say a pro-abortion travel boycott is not having much effect in one of the nation’s most visited states. About the same number of people are expected to flock to the Black Hills this summer to visit such destinations as Mount Rushmore, the Sturgis motorcycle rally and other points of interest.
Smaller pro-abortion groups called for a travel boycott after state lawmakers approved a bill banning nearly all abortions in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Gerard Baker, the superintendent of the recognizable national park with the faces of four of the nation’s most beloved presidents, said he’s had a mix of calls. They range from those who will never visit the landmark again to those who say they’re specifically coming to South Dakota because of the abortion ban.
He told the Associated Press he’s had more calls than other tourist attractions because Mount Rushmore is a symbol of freedom.
"That’s what we’re all about here," he said. "That’s what America is all about, people expressing their freedom and people expressing their choices and so forth."
He told AP that families deciding not to come to South Dakota because of the abortion ban are denying their children an excellent experience.
"I guess if I had to say something, I would say if you’re bringing your family here and you decide not to do that, what you’re doing is cheating your family, you’re cheating your youngsters by not bringing them to learn about this place," he said.
Other attractions such as the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, or officials at the numerous parks in the state haven’t heard from many people calling to say they won’t come.
Tourism is the second largest industry in South Dakota after agriculture and accounts for just over $800 billion of the state’s economy.
State Tourism Director Billie Jo Waara told AP that few of the people who have called her office have said they are canceling trips.
"It’s unclear whether it will be significant or not," Waara said.