Several days ago, a federal judge ruled that the “Choose Life” plates in North Carolina were unconstitutional because the state legislature did not offer a pro-choice version of the plates for motorists to purchase. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox explained that North Carolina could not sell the pro-life license plates because “The state’s offering of a ‘Choose Life’ license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
I hate to say it – and I’m no lawyer – but I’m not sure if I agree with this guy, even though it’s a good decision for us pro-choicers.
It seems that the North Carolina state House voted 68-44 to offer the “Choose Life” plates. To obtain one, you just had to pay a $25 fee then $15 would be sent to local anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. Also, a minimum of 300 people would have to sign up for the pates before they could be sold statewide to all motorists (so we don’t waste the prisoner’s time). During the debate, pro-choice folks did have an opportunity to get their own plates saying “Respect Choice,” but those efforts were rejected.
I’m as pro choice as they come, but I am also a hard core political person and the fact that the elected officials decided to not give the pro-movement their license plate is, well, just plain ole politics. We lost – fair and square. The simple matter is that most of these kinds of issues just come down to who has the votes. The pro-choicers tried and they lost. Now, it would be different if the Department of Motor Vehicles on their own just decided to issue the anti-abortion plates, then we’d have a better argument. But there were several votes and we lost. And that’s why our focus should be electing more pro-choice legislators.
Meanwhile, I’d like to add that it drives me crazy that we tried to get a license plate that uses the same old slogan: “Respect CHOICE.” I can’t prove it, folks, but I continue to believe that many people in this country don’t even know what “Choice” means anymore. One of the credit cards that I use has a commercial saying “You Have a Choice.” My local bank does the same. I continue to believe that one of the reasons why abortion, yep, I said the word, remains so stigmatized in this country is that we are afraid to say the word. And when we say it, we whisper it. Until supporters of “choice” start getting more comfortable with the abortion procedure, we are going to continue to lose support. So, the next time someone tries to get a license plate issued, go for it. I would be the first to buy a plate that says “Abortion Rights!”