Pro-choicers push for license plate BY Roxanne Escobales

02/12/07
Alan Watts

Car owners in Florida have many choices when it comes to license plates – the standard sunshine state design, or 104 varieties of specialty plates that support causes or institutions, from saving Florida whales to ending breast cancer. Now, there may be option number 105: the pro-choice license plate. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales has the story.

 

The Orlando chapter of the National Organization for Women, or NOW, must raise tens of thousands of dollars to make the 60-thousand dollars application fee to get its pro-choice license plate considered in Florida. Orlando NOW’s president, Jenna Cawley, calls the fund-raising a “long project.”

 

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But the issues, says Cawley, are firmly rooted in the political.

 

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Car owners must pay an extra fee to display specialty plates, and those funds are used to support whatever cause is on the plate. Money raised by the pro-choice plate would be spent on family planning for low-income women and ensuring a more comprehensive sex education for students above and beyond abstinence only programs, which Cawley says is not endorsed by medical associations.

 

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Six years ago, after a four year battle in the courts, the pro-life license plate was made available to Florida drivers. Reading “Choose Life”, the state has issued over 60-thousand-five-hundred of these tags. It has raised around 4 million dollars which fund what Choose Life publicity coordinator Russ Amerling calls “life-affirming agencies”.

 

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Years ago, Republican state Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey co-sponsored the Choose Life license plate. He said he probably would not vote for a bill instating NOW’s pro-choice tag because of concerns of what it would fund. But Fasano says it deserves to get heard in the legislature.

 

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But according to Russ Amerling, the Choose Life group welcomes NOW’s initiative. He says it’s a free speech issue.

 

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Last month, NOW unveiled the winning design from a national competition. It reads “United for Choice” and has a star figure surrounded by smaller stars. President Jenna Cawley says it’s meant to symbolize maternal health.

 

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NOW is collecting signatures for a petition to show that people would buy a pro-choice license plate. It needs 30-thousand signatures. So far it has 12-hundred. One signature that’s needed if the bill for the tag makes it through the legislature is Governor Charlie Crist’s. And Cawley is not certain he would sign the bill.

 

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To sign the petition or donate money for the United for Choice license plate, go to licensetochoose.org.

 

The pro-life license plate organization can be found at choose-dash-life.org.

 

For WMNF News, I’m Roxanne Escobales.

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