‘Choose Life’ License Plates Approved in 24 States

County Commissioner Randy Harris was struck with an idea one day as he maneuvered through traffic in Marion County, Fla. It seemed like every car had a license plate touting the virtues of saving whales and sea turtles and supporting sports teams. Why, he wondered, was there not a license plate designed to save children?
Thus, the idea: Harris asked the County Commission to ask the state of Florida to issue a “Choose Life” license plate. It would raise money to help women facing an unplanned pregnancy to obtain the support and resources necessary to allow them to choose adoption over abortion.
It took almost four years, but on June 10, 1999, newly elected Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed legislation to add “Choose Life” to the list of specialty license plates offered in the state.
“That was the birth of the ‘Choose Life’ license plates in America,” Russ Amerling told CNSNews.com. He and his wife, Jill, have been working with the grassroots, non-profit Choose Life, Inc., for the past 12 years.
Despite a lawsuit by the National Organization of Women (NOW) before the Florida plates could go on sale, the law was ultimately upheld in court, and the publicity over the battle launched initiatives to get “Choose Life” license plates in 46 states.
Virginia became the 24th state to approve the plates, with Gov. Tim Kaine – head of the Democratic National Committee – signing the bill into law in March. (Nineteen of the 24 states have the plates on the road, with five states in pre-production status).
“I don’t really care what motivated [Kaine],” Amerling said. “I’m just glad he did it, especially with his position as chairman of the Democratic [National] Committee.”
On the issue of abortion and pro-choice, the Democratic Party Platform reads: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
“We have many pro-life Democrats that sometimes are a little bit afraid to stand up and speak out because the Democratic Party has been so strongly against the plates in most states,” Amerling said.
“That should embolden some folks to stand up and vote their conscience,” Amerling said, adding that the “Choose Life” movement’s goal is to promote adoption.
“We are trying to get the message out. We’re not trying to join the pro-life, pro-choice debate,” Amerling said. “There’s enough folks doing that. We’re trying to give resources to the agencies that [help] what we refer to as abortion-vulnerable women and help them have all the information and resources they need to make the choice that their heart and conscience dictates to them.”
Since the “Choose Life” plates became available in Florida, Amerling said more than $6.4 million has been raised for pregnancy crisis centers and other agencies that promote and facilitate adoption.
Each state differs on the distribution of funds raised by specialty license plates. For example, in Florida $2 of the cost of the plate goes to the state and $20 to qualified agencies. In Virginia, $15 of the $25 charged for ‘Choose Life’ plates will go to pregnancy resource centers.
Pro-abortion advocacy groups have been fighting against the “Choose Life” plates, calling them the new battleground against abortion.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the plates were “propaganda” and called on Kaine to veto the bill – a move that would most likely have failed in the mostly Republican state Legislature.
Amerling, who is retired from the Internal Revenue Service, said his work leading a ministry for singles at his church inspired him to volunteer for the “Choose Life” movement. One of the women in the group got pregnant and planned to have an abortion.
“It broke my heart, to tell you the truth,” he said. The woman, however, chose to continue with her pregnancy.
“We’ve kept in touch with her, and the last time I talked to her the baby was 10 years old and she said that he was the joy of her life,” Amerling said.

Penny Starr
Source: CNSNews.com
Publish Date: April 27, 2009
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