Georgia State Senate Votes to Move Choose Life Plate Forward
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 23, 2004
Atlanta, GA (LifeNews.com) — The Georgia state Senate approved an amendment to license plate legislation creating a "Choose Life" plate for their state.
The measure to create a pro-adoption plate was amended to HB 1253, a bill that would allow widows of Medal of Honor winners to continue to use their spouses’ specialty plate after the recipient had died.
Becuase adding the Choose Life plate is a change to the original bill, the legislation returns to the House for approval. However, there are only five days left in the Georgia legislative session, thus a narrow window of opportunity to approve the bill.
The amendment was sponsored by pro-life Governor Sonny Purdue’s floor leader, Senator Preston Smith (R-Rome). It creates license plates that bear the "Choose Life" logo and generate funds for agencies that counsel and support women planning to give their unborn children up for adoption in lieu of abortions.
The amendment was approved 35-14 on Friday, but due to the number of amendments a final vote was not conducted until Monday, when the entire bill passed 38-10. Other amendments that were not approved included the creation of a "Pro-Family, Pro-Choice" plate and a motion to change the words "Choose Life" to "Adopt a Child."
Opponents to the measure cited lawsuits in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma regarding free speech rights and similar license plates, and said that producing the pro-adoption tag could be costly for Georgia.
Smith countered that federal courts will likely settle the issue by the time Georgia’s plate would go on sale, as Georgia has a lengthy approval process, involving not only House and Senate approval of new plates, but a ballot vote from voters the following year to amend the state’s constitution.
The effort is worth it, according to Russ Amerling, spokesperson for Choose Life, Inc., who estimates the plates could raise $350,000 per year for adoption services in Georgia. Nationally, the tags have raised some $2.6 million to help pay for adoption services, health care and other expenses for pregnant women considering abortion, and other abortion alternatives.
Another bill has been presented in the Georgia House was HB 630, sponsored by Jack White (R-Blue Ridge), a measure which only called for the creation of the plate.
"It’s not about abortion or an abortion debate; it’s about helping women, kids, and parents," White told the Catoosa County News. "I’m not out crusading; I’m out to help families in my district."
Ten states currently have "Choose Life" plates on residents’ cars: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Louisiana, and Montana. It is estimated some 40,000 plates have been sold nationwide.
Tennessee and South Carolina have approved "Choose Life" plates, but have not yet made them available to motorists.