Maryland Approves Anti-Abortion License Plates

Maryland began production this summer of license plates that have the anti-abortion slogan “Choose Life” with a simple drawing of a boy and a girl. The Associated Press reports that state regulations allow organizations with at least 25 members that are certified by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit group to apply for a license plate. The state can reject mottos or logos that are “derogatory to racial, religious and ethnic groups, scatological or use profanity, or advocate acts that are against the law,” reports the AP. Cheron Wicker, a spokeswoman for the Motor Vehicle Administration asserted, “There is no standard on which we would have rejected this plate,” AP reports. The state regulations were adopted five years ago after the state lost a court case brought by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

Pro-choice activists have promised a court challenge. “This appears to be the state endorsing political speech. Using state license plates for the purpose of making a political statement is inappropriate and will be legally challenged,” Dan Clements, a Baltimore lawyer who chairs the Planned Parenthood of Maryland board, told the Washington Post. AP reports that the tags cost $40, with $15 going toward the organization Choose Life of Maryland, Inc. and the rest going to the MVA. The “Choose Life” license plates were created in Florida where the plates have generated $2 million for crisis pregnancy centers that urge pregnant women to choose adoption over abortion. Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Oklahoma have versions of the “Choose Life” plates, and Louisiana was issuing plates until last month when a federal judge halted production pending a challenge by abortion rights activists.

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Associated Press 9/8/03; Washington Post 9/5/03

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