May 17, 2019 / 6:55 PM / 9 days ago

Corporations, events face boycott threats over U.S. abortion laws

(Reuters) - Companies operating in Alabama and Georgia, ranging from Toyota to Netflix, as well as an Alabama music festival faced boycott threats on Friday after the states passed near-total bans on abortion.

FILE PHOTO - Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House as Alabama state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

Responding to the United States’ most restrictive laws on the procedure, activists have taken aim at media companies that use Georgia as a production hub and Alabama-based automakers such as Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz.

A day after Maryland and Colorado officials told staff not to travel to Alabama to protest its abortion law passed Tuesday, people took to Twitter to say they were cancelling convention visits and beach vacations in the state.

Hangout Fest, a May 16-19 music festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama was targeted, with activists urging radio station SiriusXM to stop advertising the event and artists such as Cardi B, Travis Scott, Khalid and The Lumineers to boycott it.

Alabama earned $14.3 billion from nearly 27 million visitors in 2017, according to state data.

Activists were inspired by the partial success of boycotts that targeted Indiana over its 2015 religious freedom law, and North Carolina for its 2016 “bathroom bill” restricting their use by transgender people.

It remained to be seen whether large corporations would take a public stand on the polarizing issue of abortion.

None of the companies named in this story immediately replied to requests for comment.

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Cranfield was unavailable for comment. A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development declined to comment.

To date, only a few small film production companies have pulled out of Georgia, known as the “Hollywood of the South” for its $9.5 billion media production industry.

Boycott opponents, some of them Democrats, said it made no sense to economically punish Alabama, already one of the poorest U.S. states. Others said no amount of economic pain would sway them from their fight to defend unborn children’s rights.

Christopher Tyler Burks, who described himself as a “progressive Birmighamian,” urged people to support local groups like Emerge Alabama that fight for women’s reproductive rights.

“Rather than hate and #BoycottAlabama, use your voice to support the people in this state,” tweeted Burks, a researcher at American University in Washington.

Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Alistair Bell

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