The controversial decision to overturn the 1973 landmark ruling to permit abortions during the first two trimesters, commonly known as Roe v. Wade, is having an immediate impact on the travel industry.
The 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court rescinded federal protection of the legislation and returned the decision about abortion to individual states.
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But planners for businesses who determine site selection for events and conventions say states who move forward with plans to ban abortions run the risk of losing lucrative meetings business.
Some 22 states either have a trigger law in place in which abortion bans could be put into place immediately or have laws being considered to enact a ban.
Anticipating the decision, especially when a copy of the brief was leaked two months ago, Northstar Meetings Group surveyed meeting and event planners last month about how abortion laws might affect their site-selection decisions. Forty-three percent of the 281 planner respondents to NMG’s Flash Survey fielded from May 13 to May 17 said state-by-state abortion laws will impact their organizations’ site-selection decisions. Of those planners, more than 80 percent say they will favor states that allow abortion, with 54 percent reporting they “will not meet in states with anti-abortion laws.”
For instance, LavaCon, the annual conference on content strategy and digital publishing, will take New Orleans out of its three-city rotation if Louisiana enacts its proposed anti-abortion legislation.
“Get that bill killed, or you risk losing billions in future conference and convention business,” LavaCon executive director Jack Molisani told his liaisons at New Orleans & Company, the city’s marketing organization.
But not everyone agrees with that stance.
“I still don’t think they’re effective,” said Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer for Destinations International. “For a boycott to work, it’s got to be narrowly tailored to directly affect the individual or organization that actually can change it. Travel boycotts don’t do that; they hurt our industry almost immediately. It will take months, if not years, before legislators who can make the change see the damage that’s been done.”
“I don’t think boycotts really change anything,” agreed Chicke Fitzgerald, CEO of Solutionz, a meetings tech provider and a longtime strategic consultant to the industry. “I think it’s a shame that this has to be a big issue, because what happens in the State House is not the venue’s fault. That’s where it gets really silly. Our industry has been hurt so badly in the last two years. Why wouldn’t we just want to open the doors to everyone and not narrow our audience? I think that that’s the smart thing to do.”
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