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Editorial: Silly arguments against ‘Choose Life’ plates

Pending the governor’s approval, Florida drivers may soon have the option of a specialty license plate that sports the message “Choose Life.”

The $20-a-year tag, sponsored by an organization in Ocala called Choose Life Inc., will provide funds for care of needy mothers and infants and support adoption services.

So what’s wrong with that?

Plenty, according to abortion groups that strongly oppose the plate. Abortion rights advocates charge that legislators, by approving the plate, have wrongly taken sides in a divisive political debate over abortion. The spokeswoman for a leading national abortion rights group was heard on National Public Radio asserting that the state should be “neutral” (an ideal that strikes us as odd for a government founded to be of, by and for the people).

We think even those who favor a place for legal abortion in our society ought to see through those arguments and recognize them for what they are: silly and sad.

By way of background, Florida has, since 1987, approved a host of specialty plates supporting a variety of causes. They include space technology research, college scholarships, wild dolphins, Girl Scouts, football, the Everglades and manatees. No similar outcry surrounded approval of those plates. Groups, including Choose Life, that wish to sponsor a plate must first put up $30,000 and get 10,000 signatures on petitions.

The controversy over the license plate is one of the clearest signs we’ve seen of late that the abortion rights movement is seriously out of touch with national sentiment -- and with the arguments that afforded the abortion rights movement its success. Many Americans were persuaded that abortion should be legal out of sympathy for women so desperate that they risked health and life in unsafe and illegal procedures. Studies show that a majority of those Americans who came to support a legal place for abortion also believe that abortion should be rare.

The hullabaloo in Florida smacks distastefully of vested economic interests from a movement that claims its concern is women’s welfare. The fact is, many women choose abortion not because they prefer it but because they lack the financial and/or emotional support to carry a child to term.

A movement that labels itself “pro-choice” and then fights efforts to enhance choices for women betrays its name.

National Catholic Reporter, May 15, 1998