‘Choose Life’ License Plates Approved in 24
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
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
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
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,”
Contact: Penny Starr
Date: April 27, 2009
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in
Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state
coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our
society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political
persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic
backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has
been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the
human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection
for the disabled and the elderly. Click here to learn more about the IFRL.