Frequently Asked Questions
The following pertains to Choose Life, Inc. in Massachusetts.
1. How long will it take me to get my Choose Life license plate?
We have accomplished our goal of collecting 1500 pre-paid applications for the Choose Life license plate. The design has been approved and we are completing the final steps to obtain the surety bond. If all goes well, the completed applications will be handed to the registry on February 26, 2010. According to a registry official, it will take approximately 10 - 12 weeks from that time for the plates to be manufactured and delivered to the registry branches.
2. How will I get my plate?
On the registrations form, you indicated which Registry of Motor Vehicles branch to send your plate. When the plate is ready, you will be notified to pick it up. If the registry branch you chose has since closed, you will be directed to next branch nearest you.
3. How much does the Choose Life plate cost?
If you are one of the first to register for the plate, you will pay an initial fee of $40. $12 of that fee goes toward the manufacture of the plate and $28 goes to Choose Life. Later, when you go to the registry to pick up your plate, there are additional registration or swapping fees. The cost to swap your existing plate for a Choose Life plate is $20. If this is a new registration, the cost is $36. (We have listed the expected registry fees but they are subject to change. For the most current information on fees, please refer to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.)
4. Can I keep my same plate number?
We at Choose LIfe will try to accomodate requests for special plate numbers but we are very limited. We are currently numbering plates 1 through 1500. If you now have a vanity plate which is a combination of numbers and letters, we cannot provide you with the same combination. The registry does not allow vanity requests on specialty plates.
5. I sent my registration in some time ago. What happened to my check?
Your check was made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles so Choose Life cannot cash it. In accordance with Registry of Motor Vehicles requirements, we must hold your check until we can deliver either 1500 registrations and the 100K bond or 3000 registrations. Checks do expire after one year.
6. How do the funds get to the Pregnancy Crisis Centers?
Once we start to receive money from the Registry, we will have a grant process whereby eligible organizations can apply for funds. The grant process will ensure that the agencies are non-governmental, not-for-profit agencies not involved in abortion services in any way who offer free counseling and services to women with a crisis pregnancy.
The following is provided courtesy of Choose Life, Inc., the national Choose Life organization located in Ocala, Florida
1. Where did the Choose Life specialty plate concept originate?
County Commissioner Randy Harris initiated the effort in 1997 in Ocala, Florida.
2. Why are you sponsoring this bill?
This endeavor promotes and financially supports adoption by helping crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies, and adoption-minded pregnant mothers with their prenatal and delivery expenses, temporary housing, transportation, utility bills, food, maternity clothing and similar expenses of infants until placed with an adoptive family.
3. How much money do you expect to raise?
Naturally, this will depend on the number of people who choose this specialty plate. In December 2008 the total sales for the Florida Choose Life license plate passed $6 million. That means 300,000 plates have been bought or renewed since they first went on sale August 11, 2000.
4. How many states have approved the Choose Life specialty plate? As of March 30, 2009, twenty-four states have approved the plate (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia).
In addition, there are support groups working to create this plate in 16 other states (Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming).
5. What about lawsuits? Three lawsuits were filed in Florida by the National Organization of Women (NOW), Planned Parenthood (PP), and the Committee for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP). All suits were lost or dismissed, although the dismissal is being appealed in two of them. One suit was filed in Louisiana, and it was dismissed. It was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on December 2, 2002, the Court refused to hear any further appeal. One suit was filed in South Carolina. The plate was ruled unconstitutional at the first hearing. However, the merits are the same as the Louisiana plate, which also lost at its first hearing and was later ruled Constitutional. SC organizers are confident the SC case will be decided in favor of the plate at the 4th Circuit Level. Choose Life specialty plates were approved in Alabama, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, and went on the road without any suits being filed. (Check the main Choose Life websight for latest in state Choose Life activity.)
Responses to Common Arguments Against Choose Life
1. The Choose Life specialty plate isn't fair, because pro-abortion organizations do not have their own plates.
Any organization is free to go through the same legislative process and apply for its own specialty plate. Which organization would admit it is opposed to adoption? What would an opposition plate say? On December 2, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Louisiana abortion supporters who argued that the state was giving a forum only to pro-life views. Thus far, no opposition group in any other state has applied for a plate of its own. Instead, they have tried to piggyback some sort of pro-choice plate onto the Choose Life legislation. This has always rightly been struck down, the legislature recognizing that opposing organizations cannot automatically get their plates just because the Choose Life plate has been approved, without going through proper administrative and legislative procedures.
2. Choose Life is a political statement.
Several currently approved specialty plates in various states could be construed as making a political statement: The Environmental plate (pro-environmentalism), the Pet Friendly plate (pro-animal rights activism), the Union plate (pro-union labor; pro Democrat).
3. The distribution of Choose Life specialty plate proceeds is not fair.
Again, any pro-choice organization is free to apply for its own specialty plate, designating that any non-taxpayer proceeds go to pro-abortion organizations. Planned Parenthood receives millions of taxpayer dollars to promote its message. It seems more than fair that the opposition be allowed to receive non-taxpayer donations to promote its pro-adoption position. Do not opposers agree that adoption is a better option than abortion? Isn't adoption a woman's choice, too?
4. Choose Life specialty plates violate the separation between church and state.
The AG's office in Louisiana determined that the legislature may use license plates to encourage pregnant women to consider adoption and other alternatives to abortion, saying, "The state, acting through... its democratic process, has the right to speak this message."
5. Why not use a bumper sticker to raise funds for this cause?
The specialty license plate creates a revenue stream to the sponsoring organizations, as each time the plate is renewed, the fee is added to the plate and goes to the cause. The State of Illinois currently uses proceeds from several specialty plates to fund state parks, pet overpopulation, education, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, to name some. It is disingenuous to disallow the same non-taxed opportunity to the Illinois citizenry. The State of Illinois currently allows proceeds from several other specialty plates to go to private funding. It is disingenuous to disallow the same opportunity to Choose Life supporters.
6. Law enforcement agencies are complaining about the proliferation of specialty license plates. Specialty plates in Illinois have been in existence since 1932, when the Illinois General Assembly ushered in the concept by designing plates for its own members. There are currently 63 specialty plates on the road in Illinois, with seven more having been approved. Forty thousand Environmental plates have been sold. This appears to be a complaint that has arisen only since the Choose Life specialty plate came on the scene. The Choose Life committee supports the Illinois General Assembly setting a minimum number of orders before specialty plates will be cut. We support expiring less popular plates. We support the General Assembly requiring an escrow account of sponsoring specialty plate organizations until a minimum amount of money is received by the State. Revised: September 17, 2003