In an effort to promote a culture of life in Alaska, legislation to establish “Choose Life” specialty license plates is among scores of new bills that have been introduced in the current session of the Alaska State Legislature.
Senate Majority Leader Kevin Meyer, a Republican from Anchorage, is sponsoring Senate Bill 16, which would allow Alaskans to purchase specialty license plates with the phrase, “Choose Life,” and the image of a baby emblazoned on them.
The legislation has already garnered support from the Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops, the public policy arm of the state’s three Catholic dioceses in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.
Drivers would be able to purchase the “Choose Life” plates, like other specialty plates, for an additional $30 over the standard Division of Motor Vehicles fee. Any money collected beyond the amount needed to pay for the program would be appropriated by the legislature to a pro-life organization that promotes adoptions, Meyer said.
In a Jan. 20 statement, Alaska’s bishops indicated that they were pleased that excess revenues from the program would be appropriated to programs that promote adoption in Alaska.
“Anything that raises the awareness of adoption in our state is beneficial,” said Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz. “All possible means of encouraging women who experience an unintended pregnancy to consider adoption over abortion are of benefit.”
He added, “Nothing should ever be discounted. If the entire pro-life community in Alaska purchased this license plate for their cars, imagine the visible support these women would witness.”
While the emphasis of the plates would be to promote the protection of life in the womb, the “Choose Life” phrase could also be interpreted as a support for other life-affirming positions such as opposition to the death penalty, Meyer noted in a Jan. 20 interview with the Catholic Anchor.
“This is a great way to promote all life,” Meyer added.
While specialty plates are not uncommon in Alaska, Meyer said he expects some opposition to the proposed “Choose Life” plates. He noted that in other states Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest abortion business — has tried to block similar bills through the courts. With the Alaska Senate split 10-10 between Republicans and Democrats, Meyer said passing the bill may prove challenging. He expects, however, that a companion bill will be introduce in the State House to help facilitate passage of the legislation.
If approved and signed into law by Gov. Sean Parnell, the bill would take effect January 2012.
According to the Web site for Choose Life, Inc., a group that promotes “Choose Life” license plates across the country, 26 states have approved such specialty plates. Florida was the first in 2000.
Original supporters of the Florida project sought the plates to help raise funds and awareness in support of women in crisis pregnancies. The goal has been to help women commit to carrying their unborn babies to term and make an adoption plan for them instead of aborting them. Once Florida approved the plates, similar efforts expanded nationally. Most recently, Massachusetts approved “Choose Life” plates in June 2010.
To track the progress of proposed bills or to contact legislators, visit: w3.legis.state.ak.us and view the national Choose Life page.
LifeNews.com Note: Joel Davidson is the editor of the Catholic Anchor, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska.