Ohio House Passes Bill Authorizing Choose Life License Plates
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
November 17, 2003
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — The Ohio State House passed pro-life legislation last week to create a “Choose Life” plate for their state.
The bill passed 67-25, and will now be considered by the state Senate. Proceeds of the sales from the plates would benefit counseling and care for pregnant mothers, as well as adoption programs.
Mark Lally, legislative counsel to Ohio Right to Life, said money from the plates will provide pregnant women with "true choice" when they sometimes feel they have none.
"People are trying to make this bill something about abortion, when it’s really something about adoption," Lally said. "This is a simple, positive message that people who choose to can purchase and have the proceeds go to facilities that give women choices."
That’s not how pro-abortion lawmakers saw it.
"By authorizing these plates, the state is taking sides in a social-political debate," said Rep. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), one of many Democrats that disputed the purpose of the plates.
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Cincinnati), countered that many existing plates could be interpreted as political by opposition groups – military plates could be seen as pro-war, and wildlife plates could bee viewed as anti-development.
Rep. Dale Miller, a Cleveland Democrat, proposed changing the phrase on the plate to "Consider Adoption," but his proposal was shot down.
In other states, "Choose Life" plates have faced pro-abortion lawsuits following passage by the state legislature.
A federal district judge, for example, blocked Louisiana’s sales of the plates after they had been on the road for about a year, claiming that — because lawmakers chose the contents of the tags and where to send the proceeds — they violated the constitutional right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court later allowed distribution of the plates.
Arizona pro-life groups have sued their state for violating their rights to free speech by blocking the creation of a "Choose Life" plate there. Meanwhile, in Arkansas, a woman has sued the state for not creating a pro-abortion plate in her state, and claimed the lack of a plate for her views violated free speech.
Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) announced plans to introduce a pro-abortion license plate for Ohio as early as next week.
Ten states currently have plates on residents’ cars: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Louisiana, and Montana.
Tennessee and South Carolina have approved “Choose Life” plates, but have not yet made them available to motorists.
According to Russell Amerling, National Publicity Coordinator of Choose Life, Inc. the plates have generated approximately 2.3 million dollars to abortion alternatives, such as adoption and crisis pregnancy centers. Florida’s "Choose Life" plates have generated 2 million of that revenue, and according to the FL DMV, the "Choose Life" plates were the #9 top selling specialty plates (among dozens of others) in that state in the past 12 months.