by Steven Ertelt
April 28, 2005
Cleveland, OH (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates in Ohio filed a lawsuit seeking to stop sales of the state’s Choose Life license plate one month before they will be available to motorists. The American Civil Liberties Union claims the plates discriminate against abortion advocates because no pro-abortion version is offered.
The suit, filed in federal court in Cleveland, asserts the plates amount to "viewpoint discrimination" because they are one-sided.
Attorney John Farnan of Cleveland Right to Life, told the Associated Press the legal challenge was "a hostility both to freedom of speech and religion." He said the license plates simply promote the state’s view that life is valued.
The ACLU contends, the Ohio affiliate of the pro-abortion group NARAL collected 1,000 signatures to have its own plate, but said the speaker of the House of Representatives would not allow the proposal to come forward.
Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed legislation in February authorizing the license plates. Proceeds from sales of the plates will benefit pregnancy centers around the state that provide abortion alternatives.
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.
Jordan said the lawsuit wasn’t a surprised and called the viewpoint discrimination argument "lame" in an interview with AP.
The measure specifically prohibits abortion businesses or any agency that refers from abortions from receiving donations from the plate sales.
In January, 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.
Federal appeals courts have taken differing stances on the plates.
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.