Missouri Groups Promote Pro-Life License Plate Legislation
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 14, 2004
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Pro-abortion organizations in Missouri are trying to put the brakes on the drive to put "Respect Life" license plates on state highways.
Not only are abortion advocates threatening to take the issue to court — they’re also proposing their own "Freedom = Choice" plate.
"The ‘Respect Life’ plate is an effort to raise awareness of how valuable life is, and to raise money in order to help women to ‘respect’ the life of their children," said Cindy Dotson, one of the proponents of the pro-life plate campaign.
"Even if they don’t think or feel they have the means of supporting that child there are options other than killing the child," Dotson told LifeNews.com.
About a dozen states have authorized pro-life license plates. Those states include Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
But the effort has encountered a number of legal roadblocks. For instance, last summer, a federal judge prevented Louisiana from issuing any specialty plate, including the "Choose Life" tags.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval wrote, "If the state built a convention hall for speech and then only allowed people to speak with whom they agreed with their message, the state’s actions would be in contravention of the First Amendment. There is no significant difference in the case before the court."
Missouri state Rep. Larry Crawford (R-California), who is pro-life, introduced the "Respect Life" license plate bill.
Unlike pro-abortion groups, Crawford says a license plate that displays only one side of the abortion debate does not violate free speech.
Rep. Crawford told the Post-Dispatch, "I think it’s clearly within the purview of the legislature to approve the license plates or the laws as they see fit.
"Should the Ku Klux Klan, for instance, want a license plate, I think that’s why we have a legislature that can determine whether we want that license plate or not. And I can assure you, that would fail," Crawford added.
Proceeds from the sale of the pro-life plates would support the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Support Fund.
In opposition to Crawford, Sen. Joan Bray (D-University City), introduced a bill promoting the pro-abortion plate. Those applying for that plate would pay $25 to the Missouri Freedom = Choice Support Fund.
"I wouldn’t have filed it if (Crawford) hadn’t," Bray told the newspaper. "I think it’s hard on the police and highway patrol to have all these graphic distractions."
The pro-abortion lobby claims the fund would not be used for abortions or for abortion counseling.
Rep. Robert Hilgemann (D-St. Louis) filed a companion bill promoting the pro-abortion tag in the House. A similar measure failed last session.
Missouri has about 140 different license plates. The most popular, sponsored by the Children’s Trust Fund, has green children’s handprints and displays the message, "Prevent Child Abuse."
Meanwhile, Dotson said she doesn’t understand why anyone would oppose the "Respect Life" tag.
"The pro-life effort is sacrificial, because love is sacrificial," Dotson said. "We love and care about women and their unborn children. By selling pro-life license plates and giving that money to organizations offering abortion alternatives, we can help more women and children.
"I can’t understand why anyone would consider helping women and promoting life a bad thing. It baffles me," Dotson said.
Dotson notes that the pro-life plates would help promote adoption within the state.
"This endeavor promotes and financially supports adoption by helping crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes, (and) adoption agencies," Dotson said.
She added that it will also help "adoption-minded pregnant mothers with their prenatal and delivery expenses, temporary housing, transportation, utility bills, food, maternity clothing and similar expenses of infants until placed with an adoptive family."
Dotson notes that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion operation, routinely receives government funding.
As a result, Dotson said there is nothing unfair about allowing drivers to purchase license plates to benefit alternatives to abortion.
Related web sites:
Choose Life plates – https://www.choose-life.org