Legislature Approves “Pro-Life” License Plates

By: Robert Bumsted




License plates are a point of pride for many Rhode Islanders, but should they express a point of view? According to the state legislature, that's OK.

After a signature from Governor Chafee, the state's newest optional plate could read “choose life.” On Monday, both houses passed similar bills approving such a plate following proposals from anti-abortion groups.

Half of the $40 plate fee would go to an organization called “care net.” The Christian non-profit provides services to pregnant women and advocates against abortion. A passage from its website reads: “The ultimate aim of Care Net and its network of pregnancy centers is to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ in both word and deed.”

But the new plates have been criticized from pro-choice advocates who say the state shouldn't step into such a controversial issue.

“We didn't know who they were, what the money was going toward and what the organization was about,” says Rep. Bob Craven (D-North Kingstown) who says he voted against the bill because there wasn't enough research done into CareNet's services.

“[I] wouldn't be surprised at all if someone, after having a couple of cocktails, would throw a brick at one side or another's – those types of things happen and if it's a state-sponsored license plate I think it's inappropriate.”

But the idea of a pro-life license plate isn't a new idea.

Twenty-nine states including Massachusetts and Connecticut already have similar plates. A federal appeals court upheld the right to print pro-life plates in Virginia back in 2002.

Once the final versionof this bill is OK'd by both houses, it will head to the governor's desk. Governor Chafee refrained from commenting on the bill Tuesday saying he had to do more research about CareNet.