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'Choose Life' license plates ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina
December 11th, 2012
01:13 AM ET

'Choose Life' license plates ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina

By Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) - A federal judge ruled that North Carolina's new "Choose Life" license plates are unconstitutional because the state does not offer a pro-choice alternative.

"The State's offering a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice alternative constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment," U.S. District Court Judge James Fox wrote in the ruling Friday.

The ruling was praised by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had filed a lawsuit in 2011 to stop the specialty plates.

"This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom," said Chris Brook of the ACLU. "The government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view."

Republican state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, who sponsored the bill for the "Choose Life" plates, said he would push for an appeal of the judge's decision, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.

The bill for the license plates passed in 2011, and the legislation also mandated that money raised from the sale of the specialty plates would go to a nonprofit that supports crisis pregnancy centers, WRAL reported.

During the fight to get the bill passed, North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives such as "Trust Women. Respect Choice," the affiliate reported.

The "Choose Life" plates are available in 29 states, according to Choose Life Inc., a nonprofit that helps states that want to sell these specialty plates.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Abortion • Courts • North Carolina

soundoff (3,213 Responses)
  1. steve

    It is now illegal to say this (Choose Life) on a license plate and the ACLU says this in response: "This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom," said Chris Brook of the ACLU. Hmmm, I don't understand how this is a victory for "free speech".

    December 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm sure you don't understand.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • rAmen

      I guess reading is not your forte, you failed to read the very first sentence of this article.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • OOO

      Steve,
      You not getting it.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @steve

      If you read the 1st sentence of the article, you might begin to have some awareness as to your question or misunderstanding.

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Silver Back

      Exactly why the choice isn't yours. If the government (NC) wishes to impose free speech then it must be equal for both arguments, not one sided. Is that simple enough for you Steve?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  2. ProChoiceinCO

    Wait, the ACLU is proclaiming a victory for free speech... by taking away free speech? Do we ban the breast cancer research support license plates because there is no alternative for those who DON'T support breat cancer resaerch? DO we ban the volunterr fire department license plates because there are no license plates for pyromaniacs? The ACLU sucks.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • FlawedLogic

      Sorry your argument doesnt work. There are no supporters of 'anti-breast cancer.' This issue clearly has two very divergent sides and the state actively supressed free speech for one opinion and endorsed it for the other side. So yes this is a protection of free speech by playing the states game and saying essentially 'if you dont want one side to have that right(proclaim your support for choice or life) then you cant have it either.' Since there are viable arguments for both sides you cannot equate it to your arguments that truly only have one pov.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Saraswati

      Yes, I would ban all of them in full comfort that no speech was being limited. No one is stopping you from buying a bumper sticker, a plate holder or even spay painting your car. You have lots of speech options. What you can't have is the government offering an extra option with only a limited number of government approved choices.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • ProChoiceinCO

      The first amendment has absolutely no provision for whether something has "two sides" nor dies it address the span of divergent opinions. The availability of a license plate does not abridge one's right to either side of the argument. These are specious claims of an activist arguments.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • William

      Every one that is against breast cancer is anti-breast cancer.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Silver Back

      What is the opposing argument for brest cancer research? And are you creating an argument for pyromaniacs? Dork!

      December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Truth

      Well said. These baby killers are stumbling in response to your logic.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      "During the fight to get the bill passed, North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives such as “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” the affiliate reported."

      It's not giving BOTH sides the free speech...

      December 11, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Eric

      So, if libraries could only carry books espousing, say, a liberal point of view, that would be ok because that's promoting free speech? No, it would not be ok. The problem isn't the pro-life license plate, the problem is that the government is promoting one type of speech and blocking another kind of speech, even though both are perfectly legal.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  3. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog: see p. 8 & p. 10 for added details-

    The license plates in all states should read:

    "THE BRUTAL EFFECTS OF STUPIDITY"–

    Added details:

    The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

    – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:

    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    December 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  4. True pro choice

    Let's hear from the unwanted kids out there. Would you prefer you had been aborted? Yeah the government may have paid for my free lunches etc. Now, however, I've paid more than 16 thousand a year in taxes every year for the last 20 years. So the government is getting their money back.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Let me know the day a fetus can speak, dear. Until then, it doesn't have a say. Had you been aborted you'd never have known the difference, and neither would anyone else.

      Next!

      December 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

      You weren't beaten every day of your life by a mother who resented being forced to give birth to you.
      You weren't assaulted daily by the "uncle" your mother moved in with you to "take care" of her.
      You weren't put out on the streets.
      You didn't end up in an over crowded foster home.

      Many, many unwanted children face this kind of life, and yes, I know at least one who has told me he would rather his mother had been allowed to abort him.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • LinCA

      There is a strong correlation between legalization of abortion and a drop in crime rates two decades later. Children that are born from a wanted pregnancy are far more likely to grow up in a loving home, and far less likely to turn to crime.

      Legal and available abortion is beneficial to society.

      See Donohue and Levitt here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=174508

      December 11, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  5. dotheflippin'math

    I want one thay says: "Abort all neocons before they start multiplying." Or, how about, "Some call it incest, In S.C. we call it Keeping it in the Family." Or, "Make those 8 yr old tramps carry their Uncle's babies to term!"

    December 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  6. How come?

    No surprise. Every mention of abortion deteriorates into a shouting match.

    Abortion isn't an easy issue, and we can't just turn it off. Child abuse and unwanted children are miserable, heartbreaking problems everywhere. Overpopulation is a huge problem globally. I don't even know how to begin to tell a woman how she should live during 9 months of pregnancy, and I have no desire to. I wish those who are pro-life would talk about those issues AT THE SAME TIME they discuss the single issue of abortion.

    But it's also heartbreaking to kill a baby, and if a fetus is a viable human being at 26 weeks, how can we not call it murder? I wish pro-choice people would be willing to talk about that – what kind of society are we if we accept murder as an acceptable "choice"? And if abortion is not murder, when does a fetus stop and a baby begin?

    Is anybody ready to talk about that stuff, or are we content with ugly name-calling and slinging mud?

    December 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Madtown

      Tough topic, tough questions for sure. Interestingly, because this article is in the Belief Blog, the church(generality) only recently began to change it's stance that life begins at birth.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • OOO

      "And if abortion is not murder, when does a fetus stop and a baby begin?"

      That is the essential question, and there will always be a grey area. It will be difficult to convince a pro-choice person, like me, that a few days (or weeks) old clump of cells is a baby. On the other hand, at 26 weeks I also have a problem with abortion.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      A Candid Conversation between Two Species

      The Man: I am the predilect object of Creation, the centre of all that exists…
      The Tapeworm: You are exalting yourself a little. If you consider yourself the lord of Creation, what can I be, who feed upon you and am ruler in your entrails?
      The Man: You lack reason and an immortal soul.
      The Tapeworm: And since it is an established fact that the concentration and complexity of the nervous system appear in the animal scale as an uninterrupted series of graduations, where are we cut off? How many neurons must be possessed in order to have a soul and a little rationality?
      - Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Recollections of My Life

      December 11, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Jen

      I don't believe abortion is legal past 24 weeks (except where the life of the mother is at stake) in any state anyway. So it's not an issue.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  7. Tana

    Put energy and time in PREVENTING unwanted pregnancies DUH

    December 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  8. julnor

    So if the state offered a plate that said "Choose Abortion" would everyone be happy?

    December 11, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    We need to stop arguing about the semantic evils of abortion and concentrate on making it unnecessary. We need to encourage people to have abortions if they must, and make damn sure that the next generation doesn’t have to. Or that giving up children for adoption is a mature, honourable choice. Or that getting sterilized and adopting a used kid is even better.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Fetus is not a character in Gunsmoke

      "adopting a used kid", like buying a used Camaro. LOL

      Fact is, there are far more foster kids than decent foster parents.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • myweightinwords

      I wanted to "opt out" of my reproductive system by the time I was 25. I knew by then that I didn't want kids. I've NEVER changed my mind on that.

      However I could not find a doctor who would do it because I was "too young" and "all women want children eventually".

      December 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      To me, adopting a used kid is morally superior to spitting out crotch critters

      December 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @myweightinwords
      I know EXACTLY what you mean.
      I tried to get snipped for many, many years.
      It wasn't until I became a parent in my late 20's that I was finally able to find a Doctor willing to perform the procedure, and even then it took numerous visits for me to convince him that I was serious. I encouraged him to check with my prior doctors so he could know that I had been asking for a vasectomy for 10 years.
      Despite that long history and that I had the full support of my partner (and the mother of my child), I was still actively discouraged from going through with it.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Madtown

      Doc Vestibule
      To me, adopting a used kid is morally superior to spitting out crotch critters
      ---
      You sir, are a fine human being. I agree, take care first of who's already here.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  10. hotsauce

    It should be law that if you want a child you should have to be married for at least a year, and should be required to prove the ability to financially support the child. (Any loving couple should be allowed to marry)

    December 11, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Fetus is not a character in Gunsmoke

      You brought financial responsibility into this? People today have the right to force others to pay for their irresponsible moves. They'll just crap out a kid and have others pay its way in the world. It's their right, dammit.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Wrong. Try again.

      Many single women give birth and raise children very well. Being a good parent is not limited to being married. And being married is no guarantee of being a good parent.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      When my girlfriend became pregnant, we weren't even co-habitating, let alone married.
      7 years later we're still not planning on getting married and yet are successfully raising a healthy, happy, intelligent, well-adjusted child in a loving home.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • hotsauce

      To deny a child a complete family (mother figure, father figure) based on your poor choices is very selfish.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • myweightinwords

      To deny a child a complete family (mother figure, father figure) based on your poor choices is very selfish.

      As a child of a single parent home, I disagree. Sometimes it is the absolute best thing for that child.

      What matters is love, support, education. The number of adults providing that is less important.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  11. nate

    Yes, you need a plate that reads "dont want the financial responsibility" plate for counter. If one would murder a pregnant woman that's considered double homicide, correct? .

    December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, dumbbell. Because YOU don't get to make the choice for her. Fetal homicide laws exclude abortion. Read something.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Fetus is not a character in Gunsmoke

      If one would murder someone with split-personality disorder, that's considered double homicide, correct?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Fetus is not a character in Gunsmoke

      LOL ! :D

      Peace...

      December 11, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  12. Don W.

    So if you want people to promote a theme like "Love thy neighbor" they need to create ones that state "I hate you and will kill you" ?! That is crazy

    December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • OOO

      Yes, that is crazy, just like your totally off-base analogy.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Fetus is not a character in Gunsmoke

      They need to create platess that have the state's name only.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Will

      No. However, I don't think there's an issue with presenting a counter-argument to "My invisible friend on a cloud believes abortions are bad! Well, he never *actually* said that they're bad, anywhere in the book that a bunch of semi-literate goat herders wrote about him 2000+ years ago, but my fat red neck wifebeating pastor told me he can read his mind, and he told me they're bad. Praise Jesus!"

      December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • CosmicC

      I believe the bible is nothing more than a collection of folk tales and fables, but I find your assertion that it was written by "a bunch of semi-literate goat herders ... about ... 2000+ years ago" to be off on at least three counts. First, the way it was written can hardly be called "semi-literate". Second, the authors were hardly goat herders. They were the elite leasure class of their time. How else could they have afforded writing materials?. Finally, the new testament was written about 1800 years ago and the old testament was written a good seven hundred years before that, possibly more. Giving an age of 2000 years indicates you don't know that much about the subject, making your attack less effective.
      Simply stating that it was written by the ruling class to control semi-literage goat herders is far closer to the mark.

      December 11, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  13. KP

    Separation of State and Church. Please people look at the facts and history- you are pushing your religion beliefs on others by not respecting pro choice rights. This country is about freedom not religious and moral repression. When you tell women they must have babies they don't want or can't afford and them THAT is repression and takes her rights to her OWN body away from her!

    December 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • ConcernedMan

      Thats a great quote man

      December 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • JJ

      But that's what Christians do. They are obsessed with what other's are doing with their own bodies or their lifestyles. Christians must stay awake all night worrying about what two grown consenting men or women might be doing in the privacy of their own homes.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • julnor

      All the plate says is "Choose Life". I thought liberals were pro-choice? It doesn't say "stop abortion" or anything like that. Do you want to see a plate that says "Choose Abortion" with pictures of aborted fetuses?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • P.J.

      As long as everyone gets to kill a baby, it's OK. ....Moron!

      December 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Junior:
      'During the fight to get the bill passed, North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives such as “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” the affiliate reported.'

      This is why.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  14. JC

    Just replace it with something more befitting NC, like "Choose Ignirance" or "Stay Stoopid".

    December 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • ConcernedMan

      haha were not as bad as we used to be

      December 11, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  15. Guest

    If you don't like the pro-life plates, don't pay for them. They aren't required. Just get the regular state plate or pay for another charity you support or come out with a pro-choice option. Don't take other people's right to express their views away because you don't like what they have to say.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • JC

      ...someone didn't read or comprehend the article.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • ConcernedMan

      haha yeah guest you didn't even read the article at all. Go back and read and comprehend the article and then come back and give an intelligent reply

      December 11, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  16. Selmers

    I look around and think to myself "We need more abortions".

    December 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  17. ConcernedMan

    Yeah it is crazy its allowed in 29 states, I would be offended seeing on that on a state or federal property. Keep it on your bumper stickers and picket signs but not on license plates. Big win for NC. I'm proud of the state it really has starting changing since the last 20 years

    December 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    Help control the people population.
    Have your children spayed or neutered.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  19. Michael Means

    All I ever hear is anti-abortion, but I never hear anyone attacking the root of the issue – birth control and education. Open discussion about issues. IF you don't want abortion, fine, then stop crying when someone tries to discuss birth control like an adult.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There's the rub, sir.
      A lot of the anti-abortion crowd also support abstinence only se.x education, which is proven to be totally inneffective.
      We don’t educate our kids, we don’t give them ideals, goals, or any mental equipment. We say “here, have a condom. No, I can’t tell you more, or your parents will sue. Sure, you’ll have s.ex anyway, but we can’t give the impression that we approve, so we just won’t tell you about how to handle it if it does happen.”
      Worse, people have been indoctrinated into believing that babies are great and will make them special, important people.
      Execute a 14 year old black kid? Sure! Kill a baby? The horror!
      It’s all in the timing, I guess.
      People think that being a mother is good, except we tell them not to get pregnant.
      Motherhood is grand, but it’ll wreck your life.
      If you give up a kid for adoption, you’re a failure!
      If you get pregnant, you’re a failure!

      December 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  20. Jim

    Has anyone here actually received an abortion? Tell us your story.

    December 11, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • LinCA

      I haven't had an abortion, but I once had a wart removed. Does that count?

      December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Fetus is not a character in Gunsmoke

      My mother aborted me.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Saraswati

      By age 45 one in three US women will have an abortion. If you think you don't know anyone who has, that's proably because you haven't been pegged as a good listener on the topic. Everyone I know knows I have no issues with abortionand considerit awise choice in many instances. As a result I've had lots of women tell me their experiences, noneof which were traumatic. The only bad story is of a woman who couldn't get the abortion as soon as she wanted because of all the success the anti-choice people have had in shutting down offices and restricting options. She was in tears having to wait two weeks for an appointment, which is about the most immoral thingtheanti-choice people havedone. But allIknow believe they made the rightdecision.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Leslie Ann

      My Baby died at about 8 weeks they had me go in for a dnc to remove everything. They use meds to open your cervix, insert a vacuum basically, and suck everything out. I wasn't given the choice of a sedative. I cried and cramped the whole time it felt awful.
      I don't understand how women can use it as birth control. It's very painful and emotional.
      I knew a woman that had an abortion at over 20 weeks because she was fighting with her husband. She was a nut case and went on to have more babies with him.

      December 11, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Jim

      Thanks for sharing Leslie, I'm sorry for your loss.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.