South Carolina Choose Life Plate Denied Appeals Court Hearing

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Carolina Choose Life Plate Denied Appeals Court Hearing

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
July 1, 2004

Columbia, SC ( — A federal appeals court has refused to hold another hearing on South Carolina’s "Choose Life" license plates.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a state request to rehear the case on Tuesday. In March, the Appeals Court upheld a ruling that the license plates were unconstitutional because they gave pro-life advocates a forum to express their views without granting a similar opportunity to abortion advocates.

A spokesman for Attorney General Henry McMaster said he is disappointed with the decision and will considering another appeal attempt.

Holly Gatling, director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, told in March that she is pleased McMaster will appeal.

"Numerous U.S. Supreme Court cases have held that the state has a right to prefer childbirth over abortion. Our Choose Life license plate legislation sends the positive message that South Carolina is a place where life is valued and a state where our values are not only respected, but reflected in our government," said Gatling.

The 4th circuit’s decision upholds a federal judge’s decision in December but is at odds with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled last year in a Louisiana case that abortion advocates had no standing to sue.

The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the Louisiana case, though the appeal there came from abortion advocates rather than defenders of the Choose Life plate.

"This case shows the extremism of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the United States. Our opponents are so afraid of the pro-life message getting out, they’re even afraid of the very words ‘choose life,’" Gatling said.

"If Planned Parenthood were truly ‘pro-choice’ they would welcome the Choose Life license plates," Gatling concluded. "The problem is that Planned Parenthood is deathly afraid of losing business and when women choose life over abortion, it bad for abortion business."

Sales of the plate would benefit crisis pregnancy programs in the state, but no money could go to "any agency, institution, or organization that provides, promotes, or refers for abortion."

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.

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.

Tennessee and South Carolina have approved "Choose Life" plates, but have not yet made them available to motorists.

Related web sites:
South Carolina Citizens for Life –