The proposed new Illinois specialty license plate.
On Monday, ironically also the 24th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, US District judge David Coar ruled that the Illinois Secretary of State must start producing Choose Life specialty license plates. The proceeds from the sales of this plate are to go to "adoptive services."
Call me a skeptic, but somehow that money will be used for anti-choice legislation and action, and "adoptive service" will be the claimed recipient.
Now on the one hand, I'm pro-freedom of speech and expression. This is an issue that people feel very very strongly about - so strongly that of the 800 signatures required by the Secretary of State to consider producing a specialty license plate for an organization, 25,000 signatures were attained by Choose Life.
Currently the Illinois Secretary of State offers specialty plates for 60 organizations - none of which are political in nature - which run, on average, $118 for a first-time issuance, or $147 if your plates will expire within the next 90 days. If all 25,000 of those who signed the petition bought one of these plates, that's between 2,950,000 and 3,675,000 of revenue, a portion of which will go to Choose Life. For "adoption-service providers." Again, I'm a skeptic. "Adoption service" can be so loosely interpreted. There are some seriously misleading "crisis pregnancy centers" we have scattered 'round Chicagoland. They offer "adoption counselling." I'm pretty sure they would get a chunk of that money, for one.
On the flipside, if there was one available for Planned Parenthood, I'd pay quadruple the price for it, so I understand how strongly people feel about this issue, and how important it is for them to express it. However, as Alabama has shown, states quick to offer pro-life plates are not so interested in offering a pro-choice equivalent, where money would go to legislation and shady "crisis pregnancy" centers.
Crisis pregnancy centers.
I have NO problem with women being counselled before an abortion so they can make a fully informed decision, as long as they're being counselled in an unbiased, professional fashion. I DO have a problem with women being yelled at and called murderers by biased, fanatical (and I stress "fanatical" - these aren't typical people with pro-life values I'm talking about) pro-life so-called "counsellers" when they state they're considering an abortion. Women have reported being forced to sit in waiting rooms watching horrific abortion videos surrounded by anti-abortion pamphlets, pictures, and literature. Some have been followed home, or have been harassed by phone by those they sought help from. They are told about the horrible pain their babies will feel. Some of the more fanatical "counsellers" have been known to lock women considering abortions into a room until they "make the right decision." then follow up with them in an unrequested, uninvited, and invasive fashion. My strong, strong advice to women considering abortion or who have any questions regarding their unplanned pregnancy: Go to to your trusted doctor or to Planned Parenthood. Ask as many questions as you need to. You may choose not to get an abortion, you may never have considered an abortion, but Planned Parenthood has skilled medical staff on duty who are knowledgeable in all stages of development from conception to delivery. They are not judgemental and they are, again, very knowledgeable. They certainly won't talk you into an abortion, but they won't judge you if you choose to have one. On the flip side, if you choose to have that baby, they will make sure you have the information and healthcare you require for a healthy pregnancy. They also offer affordable birth control for women with little or no income, including students, who want to prevent pregnancy. They also offer affordable health care. Be very VERY wary of crisis pregnancy centers, even if you are absolutely not considering abortion. I hesitate to say even that they may be able to help you through the adoption process, but I'd honestly go find a good reliable adoption service instead.
"The plate is intended to support adoption-service providers; none of the charitable proceeds from the plates will support anti-abortion political activities," said Dan Proft, a spokesman for Choose Life.
They will use the money from these cute, whimsical little yellow plates to reduce the number of abortions through whatever means they devise, and claim it's adoptive services. "Bringing that baby to term made him/her adoptable!"
I want to see that women have access to safe, informed abortions without harassment. Having volunteered at a Planned Parenthood to ensure women seeking treatment (not only abortions, but competent medical care for their pregnant on non-pregnant selves) were able to enter and leave the building safely past pro-life activists; I could not BELIEVE the hatred, the threats, the vile name-calling, the toxic spew emitting from faces contorted with hate. It was disgusting. It made me all the more sure that abortion is NOT a choice women make lightly - who in God's name would endure that on a whim?!??! - and that nobody but nobody has the right to judge a woman who makes that decision, much less scream obscenities at her. I've also worked with rape and incest victims, and the mere thought of one of those women being judged for or spewed that filth at for their decision to abort a child that they had no choice in creating...I don't have the words. They'd already been raped once. To think of them having to endure that after such a violation leaves me cold with the taste of bile in my mouth.
But I digress.
My point is: more money to the pro-life movement = weaker pro-choice movement. If there were to be a balance with the offering of a pro-choice specialty license plate in all of the states that are offering the Choose Life plate, I wouldn't be as concerned.
But they're not.
Across the country, similar efforts at getting anti-abortion plates on the road have met with success. So far 18 states have approved the pro-life license plates, and 11 are already issuing them. Only Florida is currently working on a pro-choice counterpart.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is appealing the decision to offer a "Choose Life" license plate, and I'm seriously hoping he wins that appeal because I really can't afford the $600 counterpart, but the precedent has been set. The best birthday present Roe v. Wade could ask for this year would be for Jesse White to win that appeal.