New Jersey Turns Down Request for Choose Life License Plates

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 27, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Turns Down Request for Choose Life License Plates

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
November 27, 2003

Trenton, NJ ( — The Department of Motor Vehicles in New Jersey has rejected a request for "Choose Life" license plates to be produced.

After the Children First Foundation raised $12,500 in donations to cover the application fee and submitted the signatures of 500 New Jersey residents that said they would buy the specialty plates if produced, the DMV claimed the plates — particularly the phrase "Choose Life" — benefit a "cause" and needs approval from the legislature.

"This is not issue-based or based on my personal views," said Diane Legreide, chief administrator of the Motor Vehicle Department. "If Planned Parenthood wanted plates that said ‘Pro Choice,’ I would have turned them down, too."

New Jersey currently has 41 "organization plates," including veterans and civic organizations.

Legreide determined this week that the foundation did not qualify for that category because it wanted to include the "Choose life" slogan. She said that means the application falls under the "cause" category, which requires approval from the Legislature.

"I certainly want to comply with whatever regulations they have, but I don’t want to be discriminated against," said Dr. Elizabeth Rex, the foundation’s president. "It is a free country. I’ve read their (New Jersey’s) regulations and I think we comply."

Rex said the foundation supports organizations that encourage women to put their babies up for adoption, and thus the proceeds of the plates would go to crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.

"The Choose Life license plate effort in New Jersey is part of a national effort to get the Choose Life license plate into every state," said Russ Amerling, National Publicity Coordinator for Choose Life, Inc. "Choose Life, Inc. is confident that this can happen and is working with groups in 42 states at this time to make this a reality.

While the organization has had success in some states, NJ is not the first to reject the application of a "Choose Life" license plate.

"Choose Life, Inc. regrets that some states, such as California and Arizona have forced those supporting this license plate to bring suit against the state to gain the same right given to many other non-profit groups. The furious efforts of the opposition against this plate, that simply raises funds to support the choice of adoption, points out their intent to oppose anyone that even suggests there is a choice other than abortion."

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 nationwide 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 89 in that state in the past 12 months.

Related web sites:

Choose Life, Inc.
The Children First Foundation