Tennessee Choose Life Plates Will Draw Pro-Abortion Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 16, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Tennessee Choose Life Plates Will Draw Pro-Abortion Lawsuit

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 16, 2003

Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — Whether Tennessee drivers can purchase Choose Life plates for their vehicles now rests in the hands of the courts thanks to an upcoming pro-abortion lawsuit. The state affiliate of the ACLU is planning to file suit against the plates.

ACLU spokesperson Hedy Weinberg said, "This litigation has nothing to do with abortion. It has nothing to do with the pro-choice position or the anti-choice position. It has to do with the First Amendment."

Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, isn’t surprised by the upcoming lawsuit.

"We find nothing new in Ms. Weinberg’s threats," Harris told LifeNews.com. "Tennessee is a strongly pro-life state and the ACLU cannot win their radical pro-abortion agenda at the ballot box or in the halls of the legislature. Even their own pro-abortion governor refused to veto the ‘Choose Life’ plate. Their last hope of stopping the plate is to shop for a pro-abortion judge to do their dirty work."

The Legislature approved the issuance of a new special license plate bearing the slogan "Choose Life" by lopsided margins despite criticism from a few pro-abortion lawmakers. As with other special license plates, it will cost an extra $25 to purchase and production will not begin until 1,000 people have signed up to buy one.

Under the bill, 50 percent of proceeds from sale of the plates will go to New Life Resources, a crisis pregnancy center, for distribution to 49 specified agencies across the state that provide pregnancy counseling and adoption services. None of the money can go to performing or promoting abortion.

Harris told LifeNews.com that pre-sales of the Choose Life plate are going well and the group is close to reaching the goal.

In June, the bill became law without the governor’s signature. Gov. Phil Bredesen initially indicated he may veto the bill. Harris said the bill passed in the state House 80-14 and in the state Senate 28-0. Bredensen may have wanted to avoid an eventual veto override.

Abortion advocates tried to get their own license plate and proposed an amendment to the Choose Life plate bill to create one. It failed.

Weinberg said she is encouraged by the lawsuit against Louisiana’s plates.

"We are preparing a suit. We have great lawyers and good plaintiffs, and we are moving ahead," Weinburg told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A federal judge ruled Louisiana’s system for issuing specialty license plates is unconstitutional because it allows for a Choose Life plate that he claims violates the free speech rights of abortion advocates.