Imagine the outcry if North Carolina created a special breast cancer license plate to support organizations that agree to deny women information, referrals or counseling about the medical options available to treat breast cancer. Substitute pregnancy for breast cancer and, in essence, this is what activists rallying in Raleigh this week to pass “Choose Life” license plates want.
The “Choose Life” bill specifically states that funds raised through the sale of these plates may not be distributed to any organization that “provides, promotes, counsels or refers for abortion.” This puts the state in the business of fundraising for organizations that agree to deny women legal health care information at a time of crisis.
For years now, the “Right-to-Life” and other socially conservative organizations in North Carolina have pushed for a “Choose Life” license plate. Since it must be approved by the North Carolina Legislature, these activists tout the plate as either an issue of free speech or as a benign fundraising tool for “crisis pregnancy centers.”
First off, just because a person is free to speak a lie or, in this case, deny women legal health information, it doesn’t mean that the State should sanction this speech by fundraising to support it.
Second, “choose life” is pure political sloganeering. No other approved license plate in North Carolina panders to the politics of one side in a divisive argument.
Finally, implicit in their argument is that “life” is on their side. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Every single minute of every single day a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth–536,000 women every year. Of course, the majority of these women live in lesser developed countries where abortion is mostly illegal, family planning hard to come by and prenatal care virtually unheard of.
In fact, the abortion rate in countries where abortion is mostly banned often equals or exceeds the abortion rate in the United States. The primary difference is that in countries where abortion is illegal, women die at a much higher rate from abortion–so much for “choosing life.”
The quality of life enjoyed by most women in the U.S. hinges on access to safe, legal and affordable reproductive health care options including abortion, prenatal care and family planning services.
In the United States, sixty-percent of women who have abortions already have a child or children. They know the love a child offers as well as the demands of caring for a child. In fact, the number one reason women give for choosing abortion is, “concern or responsibility to other individuals.” For most of these women, choosing abortion is about “choosing life.”
So let’s go back to the fallacy of “Choose Life” license plates. Whose life are they choosing? The mock up plate features children rendered in crayon. North Carolinians who want to support children may already purchase a “Kids First” license plate that raises funds for programs that directly serve children.
If the purpose of “Choose Life” license plate is simply to raise money for “crisis pregnancy centers” then would-be license holders should become donors. That’s what supporters of most causes do. Assuming the “crisis pregnancy centers” are legitimate non-profit organizations, the donations are even tax deductible.
The final suggestion made by these groups is that Planned Parenthood can get their own license plate to counter the “Choose Life” plate. In essence, their answer is for North Carolina to create two license plate funds: one, for Planned Parenthood, that provides women with all of their legal pregnancy options and a “Choose Life” fund that denies women this information.
Planned Parenthood is far too respectful of women’s lives, not mention the State’s budget crisis, to fall for such a wasteful bad policy. We hope the NC Legislature is as well.
Tell your legislators that the state has no business sanctioning and financially supporting organizations that deny women information about services they have every legal right to access. Take action now!