Local Politics

'Choose Life' license plate political, House leaders say

Posted April 14, 2009
Updated April 15, 2009

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— Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives are divided over a bill in support of a special license plate that advocates life instead of abortion.

North Carolina offers 135 different special license plates, all of which state lawmakers have approved. Among those, 44 are special-interest plates, 26 are collegiate, 26 are NASCAR and 11 are for civic groups.

Proposed license plate divides N.C. lawmakers Proposed license plate divides N.C. lawmakers

Rep. Mitch Gillespie has tried for eight years to get the "Choose Life" license plate, available in 24 other states, approved in North Carolina.

If approved, $15 from every plate sold would benefit the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a nonprofit group that generally provides alternatives to abortion.

But for years, the bill has been tied up in the House because of a general guideline that customized license plates have no political viewpoints.

"The way it's laid out here, you don't see any controversial plates, any political plates anywhere in the state," Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, said. "You see the Great Smoky Mountains, First in Flight. You see sea turtles – causes without controversy."

But those advocating for the license plate disagree.

"We're not going to unveil a tag that's going to be offensive to anybody," Gillespie said Tuesday.

"It's very hard to understand why, when we have (more than) 130 specialized license plates, the leadership of the Legislature won't allow us to have a 'Choose Life' plate," said Eva Ritchey, president of the North Carolina Pro-Life Democrats.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, said he believes it is a freedom of speech issue. If a vote is not allowed, the issue should become a legal one.

"If the state doesn't do this voluntarily, the state will get an opportunity to do this and spend hundreds of thousands in legal fees and lose," Stam said.

Anti-abortion groups in other states have already sued over the plates.

In a case before a federal appeals court Tuesday, New Jersey officials argued the plate does not meet their program's guidelines. The Children First Foundation, a New-York anti-abortion group, said the state is violating its free-speech rights.

Federal courts around the country have split on the issue. The three-judge panel did not indicate when it would rule on the New Jersey case.

67 Comments

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  • james27613 Apr 15, 2009

    Nice plate but I agree, too political, 'choose life'.

  • whatusay Apr 15, 2009

    So what... This is better than legalizing murder of un-born children.

  • mgratk Apr 15, 2009

    As a person who believes abortion is murder, I don't care whether they get the license plate or not. A license plate won't educate anyone about the physiological and biological reasons that abortion is murder. The tissue growing inside the woman is genetically different from her. If you do a DNA test on it, it is identified as human. So it is a human who is not the mother. It is that simple-- but a license plate doesn't help anyone. Write a check for $15 to a charity that supports young mothers or educates. Don't get a license plate and think you're doing something.

  • curiousgeorgia Apr 15, 2009

    "a stone age goat herder" Who is that, prithee?

  • trulyblessed Apr 15, 2009

    Amen littlegramma..

  • Timbo Apr 15, 2009

    "Well all the UNC and NC State tags are offensive to me so can they be banned as well???????"

    The UNC ones can.

  • haggis basher Apr 15, 2009

    "I do and between the age of my children at home and the number of bedrooms in my house, I don't qualify to foster. So, I tried and I can't."
    Again excuses. I don't foster or adopt for exactly the same reasons as you but I don't preach about others should or should not do if they get pregnant. Its easy to be against something when it costs you little or nothing......

  • HJRVS Apr 15, 2009

    "We're not going to unveil a tag that's going to be offensive to anybody," Gillespie said Tuesday.

    Well all the UNC and NC State tags are offensive to me so can they be banned as well???????

  • haggis basher Apr 15, 2009

    not everyone who is Pro-life is religious and not everyone who is Pro-choice is un-religious.
    True, but you cannot deny that the powerhouse (and the money) behind the anti abortion movement are the Churches. There are lots of good reasons why we should reduce abortions but their stance that it wrong because a stone age goat herder said so just detracts from anyone taking them seriously.

  • jjslilred Apr 15, 2009

    nxtlvl4me, not everyone who is Pro-life is religious and not everyone who is Pro-choice is un-religious. you're making presumptions that are unfounded and unfair.

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