by Steven Ertelt
March 7, 2007
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court has ruled that that a lawsuit filed by abortion advocates against the state’s Choose Life license plate can continue. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a decision Tuesday saying the lawsuit, which alleges that pro-life advocates are getting preferential treatment, can move ahead.
Pro-abortion groups say the law is unconstitutional because it allows funds form the sale of the plates to benefit groups promoting adoption but prohibits money from going to groups that support abortion.
The lawsuit attempts to force the Choose Life Assistance Program to fund pro-abortion groups.
Martha Hardwick of Tulsa, an attorney for the abortion advocates, told the Associated Press, “We have not completely digested the opinion but are very pleased to see that at least some of our claims have been reinstated."
A federal judge previously ruled that the defendants, including state officials, are immune from the lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Claire Eagan also said the lawsuit belongs in state courts rather than the federal system.
The pro-life license plates cost $35 more than normal and part of the proceeds go to groups that help pregnant women find alternatives to abortion.
Eagan said in her August 2005 ruling that the additional cost is a tax, not a fee, and, as a result, belongs in state courts.
The appeals court decision throws out her decision and allows the lawsuit to proceed on its own merit.
Specifically, 60% of the funds raised from the Choose Life plates will directly benefit women in crisis pregnancy situations that choose to place their babies for adoption. It will provide food, clothing, transportation, medical assistance or whatever is needed.
Forty percent of the funds can be used for counselor training, educational materials, videos, etc. Counselors will be trained to present adoption as an option for pregnant woman in crisis. None of the funds can be used for administrative expenses.
According to a group backing the plate, "The funds raised will fill a void that currently exists in the initial emergency stages of the adoption process and help make adoption a more achievable and chosen choice in Oklahoma."