Senate Approves “Choose Life” License Plates

A tempest has risen nationally over plates promoting adoption

Cute. Stylish. Possibly obtrusive.

Those who wonder what a bumper sticker has ever done to change anybody’s mind about any issue or promote meaningful dialogue will be especially confused (regardless of their position on abortion) about the point of the newly approved “Choose Life” license plates.

However, the new plates will join a selection of over 130 specialty license plate options already available in Texas, such as “Read to Succeed” and “Animal Friendly.”

The main benefit: proceeds from the $30 plates will also go to charities, pregnancy centers and foundations that assist in adoptions, the cause they are ostensibly meant to support. The same plates, which are already allowed in 19 other states, have raised $10 million to promote adoption.

But critics of the plates note that attributing the cause entirely to the promotion of adoption could be misleading. The language of the bill clearly stipulates that recipient organizations must have no ties to abortion providers whatsoever.

"This bill, although it has a message of 'Choose Life,' the funds are going to go to promote adoption, because that is obviously a great opportunity to give an alternative," said a sponsor of the bill, Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, reports Lifenews.

Even more controversy has erupted nationwide over the free speech question the bright and cheery license plates raise.

In particular, Illinois has refused to issue the plates, though it sells roughly 60 others, including a special edition “Illinois Salutes President Barack Obama” (which shattered sales records, incidentally. Beats a real commemorative plate, maybe). In a court case, Illinois argued that the plates convey government, not private speech, and they are thus free from restrictions.  

Missouri subsequently issued an opposite decision, allowing the plates by arguing they qualify as private speech and are protected as the free speech of the individual driving the vehicle.

The Texas bill has now passed the Senate and the House and will move on to Gov. Perry’s desk, where he is likely to sign it.

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us