The anti-abortion crowd is off to a good start this session. A bill requiring women to have a sonogram before an abortion has already passed the Senate and tomorrow will be the first legislation to reach the House floor. And today a Senate committee took an early step toward passing the long-stalled “choose life” license plate bill.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony today and voted 5-1 to send a bill creating “choose life” plates to the Senate floor. Funds collected from Senate Bill 257 by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, would generate revenue to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion. Currently 26 states sell choose life license plates and have raised a total of $14 million. Russ Amerling, who leads the national Choose Life Inc. and helps states implement the license plate measure, told the committee that Florida alone raised $7.5 million for adoption, and he has high hopes for Texas. “I anticipate much more in Texas because it’s a bigger state,” he said. (And we also have a lot of pro-life advocates.)
Carona’s bill passed in the Senate but died in the House last session, and he told the committee today that Texas is “missing an opportunity to promote” adoption. “This is a simple way to advance the cause of life at no cost to our taxpayers,” he said. “It also allows citizens to express their first amendment rights and liberties.”
Matthew Simpson of the ACLU, the only witness opposed to the bill, quickly refuted Carona’s argument, telling the committee as he has in the past that the license plates only reflect one side of the abortion versus adoption debate. “The state should not be in the business of creating a public forum” for discussion, he said, arguing that the committee should call for license plates that reflect the opposing choice viewpoint as well. State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, pointed out, however, that anyone is free to work with a senator to get any message put on license plates.
Ronda Moreland, who was adopted at eight months old by a Dallas family, testified at the hearing, urging members to support the bill. “I would urge you to think about how someone who was adopted has impacted your life,” she told senators. “Both sides of the (adoption-versus-abortion) issue can come together and promote adoption; this can literally be the sign in front of a woman who is faced with an unplanned pregnancy.”