by Steven Ertelt
February 16, 2005
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed legislation Tuesday authorizing motorists to purchase Choose Life license plates. Proceeds from sales of the plates will benefit pregnancy centers around the state that provide abortion alternatives — but only if the plates survive an expected lawsuit.
Sen. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Urbana, sponsored the license plate bill, which asks drivers to spend $30 extra for the specialty plates, with $20 going to the pregnancy centers.
The measure specifically prohibits abortion businesses or any agency that refers from abortions from receiving donations from the plate sales.
The Ohio bill becomes law in 90 days and the pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union says it will likely file a lawsuit against the plates.
Last month the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear a lawsuit regarding the South Carolina Choose Life plates. Abortion advocates there sued claiming the plates were a violation of their First Amendment rights because no plate exists promoting abortion.
The decision leaves case law in doubt as two separate federal appeals courts issued differing rulings about the constitutionality of the plates.
Last year, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision overturning the Choose Life plates. South Carolina filed a motion to reconsider the ruling, but the court voted 8-5 against it.
The appeals court’s ruling is at odds with a ruling in a similar case issued by the 5th Circuit Court, which ruled that abortion advocates in Louisiana had no standing to sue in a similar Choose Life plate case. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the Louisiana case.
Thirteen states have adopted Choose Life license plates, where proceeds benefit pro-life groups, adoption agencies, and pregnancy help centers. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.
License plates backing abortion have been approved in Hawaii and Montana.