'Choose Life' license plate bill revived

Friday, April 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bill to permit a ``Choose Life'' license plate in Oklahoma is still alive in the Oklahoma Legislature.

The House-passed measure was thought to be dead for the session when it was not heard in a Senate committee prior to a legislative deadline two weeks ago.

But an amendment by Sen. Jim Williamson, R-Tulsa, was placed in another bill by Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma City. The Wilcoxson bill passed the Senate on Wednesday without debate.

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.''

Under the proposal, a fund will be set up for the Department of Human Services to distribute money to nonprofit organizations for counseling and other needs of pregnant women ``who are committed to placing their children for adoption.''

Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, principal author of the original House bill, said an intense lobbying effort by supporters of the bill led to Senate approval.

He said hundreds of signed petitions in support of the Choose Life license plate and they were presented to Senate leaders.

Similar laws have been passed in other Sunbelt states and are under legal attack from abortion rights advocates. Planned Parenthood, Inc., argues ``choose life'' is an anti-choice slogan.

Balkman's bill passed the House earlier on a 99-0 vote. He said it should pass easily on a second vote, although ``I can see a few guys switching their votes now that it is a real deal.''

Wilcoxson said some lawmakers do not like the Choose Life license plate because it carries a political message.

She said she thinks ``it's important that people can make these kind of statements, politically. That's what they call free speech.''