Montana Becomes Next State to Offer Choose Life License Plates

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

Montana Becomes Next State to Offer Choose Life License Plates

by Valerie Thompson Editor
October 9, 2003

Washington, DC ( — Montana residents can pick up new "Choose Life" license plates at their local motor vehicle office beginning Nov. 1st, in a so-far uneventful launch of the pro-life license plate in this Rocky Mountain state. However, pro-abortion forces plan to have their message on the road soon too.

Montanans, known for their independent nature and love of the outdoors, will be able to drive the Big Sky state with a brightly-colored license plate featuring the faces of two children, a backdrop of mountains and the inscription, "Choose Life."

The obvious objective is to put out a wide-spread and clearly understood message to Choose Life!" said Lianna Karlin, president of Montana Right to Life.

Although other states’ "Choose Life" plates have become embroiled in court battles, the group does not expect problems because the license plate was approved through an existing administrative process, Karlin said. Each plate will cost $20 in addition to the state license plate fees.

From the pro-abortion viewpoint, Intermountain Planned Parenthood will offer a plate entitled "Respect Choice" in the "very near future," according to Jeri Duran, director of public affairs. An application has not yet been filed, according to a state spokeswoman.

Montana Right to Life paid a one-time fee of $1,200 for the permit to sell the plate. All funds raised from license plate sales will go to the organization’s education fund. The board of directors is discussing options, including spending the money to purchase sonogram machines for pregnancy centers, hospitals and clinics, Karlin said.

"Sonograms have been proven to be an excellent way to educate pregnant women to the humanity of the baby living in the womb," Karlin said. A high percentage of women who see the sonogram decide to continue their pregnancies, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Justice, which includes the motor vehicle division, says the plates are now in production at the Montana State Prison. The plates were expected to be available already.

"The prison has run low on the protective coating that’s applied to the plates, however, and that’s created a bit of a delay," said Lynn Solomon, public information officer.

Nationally, the "Choose Life" license plate idea caught fire in 1997 when then-Gov. Lawton Chiles vetoed legislation creating the plate in Florida. After Gov. Jeb Bush signed the bill approving the plate, the plate went on sale in 2000.

Sales of the Florida "Choose Life" license plate hit a cumulative $2 million in sales in September 2003, according to Choose Life, Inc. which says that the plate raises $70,000 per month for distribution to crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes and some adoption agencies.

Montana, with a much smaller population base, is unlikely to raise that large an amount of money. It will become the 10th state to offer the plate for sale.

Eight other states sell Choose Life plates: Maryland, Arkansas, Connecticut, Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

Twelve states have passed "Choose Life" license plate legislation, according to Choose Life Inc, which says 30 more have groups working on the project.

Related web sites:
Montana Right to Life –