Legislature approves bill to create Choose Life license plates

Tuesday, April 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma House approved legislation Tuesday authorizing the state to issue ``Choose Life'' license plates.

The House approved, 91-6, a Senate-amended version of the bill, which was sent to Gov. Frank Keating for his signature.

The amended bill creates a Choose Life specialty license plate that can be purchased for a fee of $25 by anyone ``who wishes to demonstrate support of organizations that encourage adoption as a positive choice for women with unplanned pregnancies.''

The fee would create a fund to be distributed by the Department of Human Services to nonprofit organizations for counseling and other needs of pregnant women ``who are committed to placing their children for adoption.''

Similar laws have been passed in other Sunbelt states and are under legal attack from abortion rights advocates. The Florida Legislature made ``Choose Life'' tags available in August 2000, and more than 25,000 have been sold for cars and trucks.

Planned Parenthood, Inc., argues ``choose life'' is an anti-choice slogan.

Barbara Chisko, executive director of Birthchoice Oklahoma, said the legislation has the potential to raise significant amounts of money for her organization.

``This will allow us to reach out to more women who have unplanned or unwanted pregnancies and desire to counseling and other services,'' Chisko said.

Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, was the principal author of the original House bill, which died in the Senate Finance Committee.

Balkman said hundreds of signed petitions in support of the Choose Life license plate were presented to Senate leaders and helped secure the passage of the amended bill.

``Getting this bill passed has been a real struggle but definitely worth it,'' he said. ``The Choose Life license plate allows Oklahoma motorists to take a stand for life in support of adoption, and more importantly, this will help women and their unborn children who are in crisis situations.''