Florida Choose Life Plate Money Finally Gets to Groups in Some Areas

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 26, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Choose Life Plate Money Finally Gets to Groups in Some Areas

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
November 26, 2003

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — While Florida may have had "Choose Life" license plates on the road, there are a few bumps still being paved out in counties across the Sunshine State.

It has been three years since Florida approved the plates, which benefit adoption-related services, Charlotte County has finally found two organizations that meet the requirements set out by the legislation that created the plates.

The Pregnancy Testing Center, a ministry of First Baptist Church of Port Charlotte; and the Pregnancy Crisis Careline, housed at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Port Charlotte, will split the $18,000 collected so far from the sale of the license plates.

Since the guidelines call for 70% of the funds to pay for material and counseling needs of pregnant women seeking adoptions, and the money cannot be given to any organization that refer women to abortion clinics — the county finally narrowed the field to the two organizations that will receive the proceeds.

Cathy Bray, executive director of the 4-year-old Pregnancy Test Center, welcomed the funding. She said the center is researching options to ensure the funds are well spent — any unused funds must be returned.

"We want to be a community resource," Bray said. "We want to make the women have all their options. We have some homework to do."

Russ Amerling, National Publicity Coordinator for Choose Life, Inc., told LifeNews.com that he is "pleased" with the results in Charlotte County. However, other counties are still facing opposition and difficulties in dispersing the funds.

"We are still having some difficulties in several counties, including Palm Beach, Escambia and Manatee," said Amerling. "We are working closely with these folks and hope to get the funds released soon."

Palm Beach County is claiming it doesn’t want to give the funds to any "faith-based" entity, as they are afraid someone might sue them, according to Amerling. As Charlotte County only found two organizations, both sponsored by churches, the additional criteria makes it harder to find eligible agencies.

"Most of the counties have come into compliance with the Choose Life state statute," said Amerling. "However, certain counties that have released the funds have made the procedure and contract so cumbersome as to make obtaining the funds too difficult for some qualified agencies to comply with, therefore effectively avoiding complying with the state statute. We will continue to work with Liberty Counsel to resolve these issues."

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 Amerling, 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 of 89 in that state in the past 12 months.

Related web sites:
Choose Life – https://www.choose-life.org