South Carolina Agency Approves Choose Life License Plates, Ceremony Wed
by Steven Ertelt
May 26, 2008
Columbia, SC (LifeNews.com) — The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has approved the Choose Life license plate for Palmetto State motorists. The decision comes after years of legal wrangling that led all the way to the Supreme Court.
The official design of the tag will be unveiled at a ceremony Wednesday at the state capitol.
"This is a particularly sweet victory for pro-life supporters," Holly Gatling, the director of South Carolina Citizens for Life told LifeNews.com. "It has taken seven long years of very hard work to bring this Choose Life tag into being."
The South Carolina legislature originally approved the Choose Life plates, the sales of which benefit pregnancy centers that help women with unplanned pregnancies, but Planned Parenthood took the plates to court in a 2001 lawsuit.
"Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United State with a corner on one quarter of the abortion market," Gatling said.
"Planned Parenthood receives $336 million in tax dollars and does a one billion dollar annual business. Is it possible Planned Parenthood is afraid that positive message ‘Choose Life’ on car tags might kill its business?" she asked.
The lawsuit went to the nation’s highest court and the abortion business eventually won its suit in a federal appeals court claiming the plates were discriminatory.
In 2004, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the plates were unconstitutional because they limited a public forum of speech to pro-life advocates because there are no pro-abortion license plates.
To allow the plates to proceed, the legislature, in 2006, passed another law permitting non-profit organizations such as South Carolina Citizens for Life to apply directly to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a revenue-producing specialty license plate.
Although SCCL complied with the stringent DMV requirements, the department asked Attorney General Henry McMaster to issue a specific ruling on whether SCCL qualified to have a specialized plate.
In his opinion, McMaster said if SCCL met the DMV’s requirements for speciality license plate, then the DMV "may not, consistent with the First Amendment, deny issuance of the speciality plate."
The plates may go into production as early as September.
Ultimately, the Choose Life plates across the nation have raised over $8.7 million and over 400,000 plates have been sold or renewed in the 17 state that currently have the plate available.