By Jennifer Fox, AlterNet
Posted on July 1, 2006, Printed on July 1, 2006
Now that anti-abortion "Choose Life" license plates are legal in some states, I wonder where's the "Choose Choice" option?
On Monday, June 26, the Supreme Court refused to tackle a lawsuit about the matter, ensuring that the "Choose Life" plates -- which originated In Florida -- remain legal in Louisiana, Tennessee and the few other states where they have grown in popularity.
Proceeds from the plates have raised about $4 million for anti-abortion organizations. And according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, if an organization so much as lists abortion as a post-pregnancy option, they won't receive any proceeds.
Despite strong interest, pro-choice license plates only exist in Montana (and as a decal in Hawaii). If you Google "anti-abortion license plates," all sorts of articles pop up about how they are legal in 13 states -- there's even ordering information. But searching for "pro-choice license plates," you get a smattering of the same stories about anti-abortion plates, a few articles about design contests for a pro-choice plate and a few articles about how states like Tennessee allow anti-abortion plates but refuse to authorize pro-choice ones.
According to a Law.com article, Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Ga., sponsored an amendment for a "pro-family, pro-choice" license plate in the Georgia Senate, but dropped it when Republican senators proposed an alternate amendment that would channel funds from the pro-choice license plate to adoption agencies instead of Planned Parenthood, as Butler wanted. In fact, those same senators specifically prevented any group that provided abortions from receiving any license plate revenue. Apparently they missed the point that a license plate for choice should aid organizations that actually advocate choice.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Mike Fair came up with what he evidently saw as a solution to the debate. In 2005 he introduced a bill to the South Carolina general assembly that would allow for a "Choose Death" license plate. (Yes, he was serious). Of course, the proceeds wouldn't go to nonprofit organizations advocating abortion as an option -- the funds would go to the Department of Mental Health, where they would be "used for post-abortion trauma counseling for females who have chosen to have abortions."
As if the modern pro-choice movement isn't being shafted enough, the anti-choice license plate depicts two crayon-doodled happy children as artwork. Why do anti-abortionists have the right to use smiling children as propaganda? Were they "lucky" enough to have happy, stable lives -- or were they born into poverty, to an unprepared mother or a couple that simply didn't want kids?
If it's ever actually manufactured, a pro-choice license plate could have smiling kids on it, too. Maybe they would smile because they knew that one mistake doesn't have to irrevocably change their lives, or because their right to reproductive freedom is protected -- for now. Or maybe they would just be smiling at the irony that an actual abortion is legal but a license plate supporting one isn't.
Editor's note: Some of the information from this article came from a clip on CNN that can be viewed here: alternet.org/video.
Jennifer Fox is an AlterNet intern.