Gaylor Calls for Tourists to “Bypass South Dakota”


Anne Gaylor

Anne Gaylor, founder and president emerita of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, as volunteer administrator of the charitable Women’s Medical Fund, was the first to call on tourists to “bypass South Dakota” after the legislature there passed a ban on abortion in February.

“All kinds of families visit Mount Rushmore every year,” she noted. “It’s a favorite of Americans and foreign tourists. But we can do without Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, the Badlands, and the Corn Palace.

“We are encouraging all who care about women’s rights to bypass South Dakota. Our message is that if they are going to treat women in this inhumane way, they can expect to pay a price.”

Gaylor has administered the Women’s Medical Fund since the early 1970s. (Who says atheists don’t head charities?) Believed to be the longest continuously-operating abortion charity, the Women’s Medical Fund has helped more than 15,000 needy Wisconsin women obtain abortion care.

The draconian ban outlaws abortion even in cases of rape and incest. The Roman Catholic governor signed the bill into law on March 6.

Taking effect on July 1, it declares that “life begins at conception.” It also bars abortion in cases of gross fetal abnormality, permitting abortion only to save a woman’s life, not even excepting her health.

It would imprison physicians who perform abortions for up to five years, with $5,000 fines.

The ban was passed as a deliberate test case to challenge Roe v. Wade. The largely theocratic antiabortion movement sees the new Catholic domination of the Supreme Court as an opportunity to overturn the 1973 decision, or return abortion rights to the mercy of state legislatures.

A South Dakota coalition announced on March 23 that state activists will seek to overturn the ban by placing it on the Nov. 7 ballot as a referendum. Supporters must collect more than 16,700 signatures by June 19 to block the law from taking effect on July 1.

Even a Fox news poll found 59% of Americans would oppose such a ban in their state.

Associated Press reports that tourism brings in $2 billion a year to the relatively poor state.

Since South Dakota is the home of Citibank, which bills itself as the nation’s largest bank, the Women’s Medical Fund also is urging holders of Citibank credit cards to cancel and let the bank know why.

Other targeted events include the August Sturgis bike rally, billed as the largest motorcycle rally in the United States, with many corporate sponsors.

The ban on legal abortion passed by the South Dakota Legislature involves government imposing one religion’s dogma on everyone, according to Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“For a state to dictate one religion’s view of abortion is an assault on American secularism. Priests and preachers can make any pronouncements they like from the pulpit, but the government should not be basing law on religious doctrine.

“Belief that a ‘human being exists at conception’ is a matter of faith, not fact. Our government cannot issue a divine fiat saying when a soul exists, or that a soul exists.”

The “bypass” campaign has received widespread coverage in South Dakota, as well as USA Today, The New York Times and nationwide Associated Press articles.

To participate, simply indicate you will bypass South Dakota by contacting:

South Dakota Department of Tourism


Freedom From Religion Foundation