Judge: NC Choose Life Plates Invalid Because No Pro-Abortion Version
by Steven Ertelt | Charlotte, NC | LifeNews.com | 12/10/12 1:09 PM
A federal judge ruled that the Choose Life plates in North Carolina are constitutional unsound because the state legislature did not offer a pro-abortion version of the plates for motorists to purchase.
After the legislature approved the plates, the pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox ruled Friday that North Carolina can’t sell the pro-life license plates, saying, “The State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.” He already issued a temporary injunction and his decision Friday makes that decision permanent.
“This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU-NCLF, according to a local news report.
The North Carolina state House voted 68-44 for Choose Life plate, that require an extra $25 fee to purchase — with $15 going to pregnancy centers that provide women with abortion alternatives for each plate sold in the state. Some 300 people would have to sign up for the pates before they would be sold statewide to all motorists.
During the legislative process, lawmakers rejected multiple attempts to add a “Respect Choice” license plate supporting abortion.
Carteret County Republican Rep. Pat McElraft told legislators the plates will raise money for Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship and “save some babies lives.” However, some Democrats opposed the measure because they didn’t want licence plates becoming a forum for debate on abortion.
Bobbie Meyer, the state director of Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, told LifeNews: “North Carolina is the only state in the southeast that refuses to let its citizens purchase the choose life license plate. For eight years the legislation for the choose life plate has been denied a vote even though more than 130 other plates have been approved.”
“The choose life license plate has already raised over 12 million dollars in the states that allow them thereby helping mothers and their families,” she added. “Here in NC there are 85 pregnancy care centers who last year saw over 46,000 women and children.”
There are currently 80 pregnancy centers across the Tar Heel State that served more than 46,000 Despite popular support for the plate, Planned Parenthood officials strongly opposed it.
“These license plates are specialty plates that bear an anti-choice message,” the group said in an email LifeNews.com obtained asking its members to urge legislators to vote no.
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Planned Parenthood complained that the funds from the plate will go to pregnancy centers that provide women with real choices and tangible help in an unplanned pregnancy. As the abortion business claimed, the centers “promise comprehensive medical advice and services but deliver anti-choice propaganda.” Planned Parenthood also complained it would be ineligible to receive funds because it does abortions while the plate’s goals are to promote adoption and helping women in crisis pregnancies.
The approval of the Choose Life plate came after significant hard work from pro-life groups in the state, including North Carolina Right to Life and North Carolina Pro-Life Democrats.
The Tar Heel State is home to over 100 specialized license plates promoting everything from Save the Sea Turtle to NASCAR driver Greg Biffle. The Choose Life tag was tied up in the Transportation Committee for five years. Ultimately, the Choose Life plates across the nation have raised over $8.7 million and over 400,000 plates have been sold or renewed in the 17 states that currently have the plate available.