Monday, November 21, 2011

'Choose Life' license plates heading to court

Posted By on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Before "Choose Life" license plates get printed, there's going to be another court case, according to the Associated Press.

North Carolina's "Choose Life" plates would fund pregnancy crisis centers to the tune of $15 out of every $25 the state charges for the plates. These centers, which aren't held to the basic medical standards as a Planned Parenthood, were investigated by N.C. chapter of the reproductive-rights organization NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Two-thirds of the centers provide false or misleading information, 92 percent have no on-site medical staff, and more than half are affiliated with Christian groups and offer women unsolicited religious advice, according to the report.

The Associated Press reports:

A potential showdown in court this month over whether North Carolina can sell anti-abortion specialty license plates that say "Choose Life" will be a mere sideshow if the lawmaker who shepherded the plates through the legislature has anything to say about it.

Rep. Mitch Gillespie said the hearing in federal court in Wilmington, scheduled for Nov. 28, doesn't have much bearing on his plans to ensure North Carolina motorists will be able to buy the plates. But the details are under wraps for now, the McDowell County Republican said.

"I've got a plan that will make the lawsuit that they have a moot point," he said. "I think this will all be taken care of in a short period of time."

Gillespie wouldn't be drawn out on details, but one of the central complaints in the lawsuit is that while lawmakers approved the "Choose Life" plates, there's no corresponding option for supporters of abortion rights. The lawsuit was filed by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The North Carolina General Assembly has undertaken to permit North Carolina drivers to engage in private speech through a special license plate dedicated to the abortion debate, but the state only permits expression of one side of the debate," reads a memorandum filed by the ACLU in federal court. "The First Amendment is designed to protect citizens against exactly that type of abuse."

The General Assembly approved the "Choose Life" plate this year, along with 79 other specialty plates. The Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an association of nonprofit pregnancy counseling centers, will get $15 from each plate sold.

Gov. Beverly Perdue, an abortion rights supporter, signed the license plate bill, saying she didn't want to veto dozens of other plates over the anti-abortion plate.

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