Choose Life Or Else
Recently, a federal judge in North Carolina has decided that a plan for his state to offer Pro-Life license plates is unconstitutional, based on the fact that there is no plan or proposal to offer Pro-Choice plates as well in order to represent both viewpoints fairly. His decision was based on his interpretation of the First Amendment and that the Pro-Life plate without a Pro-Choice plate to counter it would violate that amendment.
No matter where I happen to be headed, I always spot a vehicle with some sort of Pro-Life propaganda stuck to the rear bumper or window. “Pro-Life: It’s Not Just YOUR Body.” “Babies Don’t CHOOSE Abortion.” “Abortion Stops A Beating Heart.” “It’s Not A Choice. It’s A Child.” The words vary, but the message is always the same: Life begins at conception and to abort a fetus is to commit murder. It doesn’t surprise me at all that a proposal would be made for vehicle plates to also display this message in North Carolina, following suit of many other states. I’m just not quite sure I want to see it on any more government issued materials.
In my state, if you don’t wish to opt for the standard plate, you may pay extra and get a specialty plate for a university, various military branches, organizations such as Riley Hospital, D.A.R.E., and Breast Cancer Awareness, or sports plates for the Indianapolis Colts. Some plates have an obvious message, such as D.A.R.E. to keep off of drugs and Humane Society to make a plea for the spaying and neutering of animals, but they are messages of safety, of common sense and reason, and of no controversy. Only a fool would protest a cancer awareness plate. Introducing a plate that addresses the issue of abortion is simply too much, yet I can go get one for my car if I wish.
The debate on whether or not abortion is murder and whether or not it should be legal is definitely a hot topic. It’s one that demands discussion and desperately needs some sort of resolution. It has the power to divide our nation and to fill people with rage and discontent. It often is the deciding factor on who we vote into office, who we choose for medical care, and even who we associate with in our personal lives. It’s an issue that, in my opinion, is easily resolved by making abortion 100% legal and 100% safe for women who choose that route and who are early enough in their pregnancy for it to be considered. It is not an issue, however, that is appropriate to slap on a government issued vehicle identification plate.
As an atheist, I was bothered enough by having to pay extra for a Colts plate so I wouldn’t have the standard plate on my car with “In God We Trust” emblazoned along the bottom. Indiana is not a state who can say that 100% of its population believes in God and can therefore have “In God We Trust” come standard on plates. It’s discouraging that an option does not exist that doesn’t cost me extra, but at least there is the option to have a godless plate in favor of choosing one of the many causes or organizations offered. The judge’s decision to deny the Pro-Life plate due to the lack of a second option makes sense to me, as I can relate, but the denial should also be because it’s just not appropriate. License plates can and should be a form of self-expression, but they should not dip into controversial issues and should not force viewpoints upon society.
If the concern is children who aren’t being given a chance at life and if the goal in the Pro-Life plates is to generate extra funding to assist pregnant women who are conflicted and who need assistance, surely some middle ground can be found that will appease all parties without being forceful or inappropriate. The concern is obviously for children, so why not come up with a plate with a background that emphasizes the rights of those of us who are too young to speak for themselves? It needs to be kept neutral and positive, something that is unoffensive and unobtrusive. As adults, we can do that. Right?
Unfortunately I imagine that the majority of those who are in support of the Pro-Life plates, and those who already have one, are more concerned with having people be 100% informed that they are Pro-Life than about actually helping women in need and fixing the ongoing problems that the abortion debate has caused and will continue to cause. They want their message to be heard loud and clear, demanding change without getting their hands dirty and doing any work in support of their cause. If you feel strongly enough about something to slap it on your car and display it in public, you need to start feeling strongly enough to get involved and work to bring about change. Talk is cheap, especially when it’s coming from license plates and bumper stickers.
With over half of the country issuing Pro-Life license plates and only six states not concerning themselves at all with it, it seems that I am in the minority in thinking that these plates are stepping over the line. At the very least, since it doesn’t seem that we can rid ourselves of these plates, all states who offer them should also offer a Pro-Choice version. It’s not the path I would like to see us go down, but at least it’s fair to both sides. Ideally, we’d find middle ground, but I doubt people can be reasonable enough to get to that point and find a neutral solution.
Let me be clear; I have no problem whatsoever with people choosing to slap Pro-Life stickers all over their car, or even getting a vanity plate that spells out some sort of Pro-Life message. My problem is with the fact that it’s on a license plate background. My issue is that almost thirty states have this plate and only now has one judge in one state spoken up and denied it because it mutes one side of a very controversial debate. This is no better than trivial office spats where people leave post-its on a dirty microwave to try to get someone to step up and clean it, only here we are using license plates instead of post-its and abortion rather than a mess. Either way, sticking notes on things solves absolutely nothing. The abortion issue will not be resolved via license plate. We need to knock it off.
Posted on December 11, 2012, in Fear, Kids, News and tagged abortion, adoption, atheist, catholic, christianity, first amendment, free speech, license plate, pro choice, pro life. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.