Children First: the Underground Railroad War Against Women’s Freedom

Show Your Support For Killing Women's Freedom
Show Your Support For Killing Women's Freedom

Children First: the Underground Railroad War Against Women’s Freedom

Back in April of 2009, anti-women’s freedoms groups won the approval for specialized license plates reading “Choose Life” in 18 states. A few states were holding out, continuing the legal fight. One of those states, New Jersey, just gave in last week to stop the financial bleeding of the endless court battles.

The “Choose Life” plate is sold through “Children First”, which sounds innocuous enough, and indeed, the folks behind it claim it stands for adoption. I mean, who is anti-life, right? Yes, that’s the beauty of right wing framing, because as we’ve come to expect, where there’s the money to fight legal battles across the country, there’s a dishonest, bait and switch agenda beneath the sweet child-like drawing of two children adorning the “Choose Life” license plates.

According to their website, “Choose Life, Inc is an IRC 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible. Contributions and profits from the sale of promotional items are used to help Choose Life, Inc. promote the sale of the real Choose Life License Plate which raises funds to support adoption efforts of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes and not-for-profit adoption agencies.”

Sounds OK still. I mean, I’m pro-all life, including women’s (which makes me “pro-choice”), so I may not agree with these folks but I’ve got nothing against people advocating for their moral beliefs. But that’s not what these folks are doing. Upon closer examination, those Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) are actually bait and switch operations that go to any lengths to shame and intimidate pregnant women into not having an abortion, including marketing themselves as a crisis pregnancy clinic, often listed in under “abortions”, using scare tactics and untruths to force women into having babies they do not want to have.

These CPCs used to be funded privately. But one day in 1997, a bright young Republican County Commissioner named Randy Harris got the idea to form an anti-abortion organization called Choose Life Inc that would be a state-sponsored fund-raising vehicle using the “Choose Life” license plate. This means the state would be an agent for promoting and funding a religious viewpoint.

And lucky for Randy, although his first attempt to sell this ingenious trickery got vetoed, in 1999 Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida and he concurred with Randy that the state should help fund these CPCs and as you know, Jeb had no compunction about mixing church and state. So, for each $22 tag sold, $20 is returned to the county of purchase, where the board of commissioners distributes the funds to CPCs. If Muslims were pulling this off in this country, we’d be hearing shrieks of such outrage we’d all be in the Fox bunkers of fear hunkering down till the Beck gale passed. But when the Christians/Catholics do it, for the “children”, a cowed nation looks the other way.

Orlando Weekly reported in “Choose Lies”:

“In order to qualify for the funds, the “Choose Life” statute specifies that the money may go only to “nongovernmental, not-for-profit agencies” for the purpose of “meeting the physical needs of pregnant women who are committed to placing their children for adoption.” Seventy percent of the funds must be applied to “provide for the material needs of pregnant women who are committed to placing their children for adoption.” None of that money can be spent on children already awaiting adoption.

Advocates of the plate consistently claim that it is meant to promote and support adoption. Yet the actual “Choose Life” statute, No. 320.08058(26), is replete with anti-abortion language: “Funds may not be distributed to any agency that is involved or associated with abortion activities, including counseling for or referrals to abortion clinics, providing medical abortion-related procedures, or pro-abortion advertising.” The Choose Life Inc. website even promotes the tag as a way to “speak up for the unborn.”

Barry Silver is a Boca Raton attorney who has been making legal challenges to the “Choose Life” tag since its inception. He notes that the tag’s catch phrase comes from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 30:19, a passage abortion foes have long cited as a Biblical condemnation of abortion: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

“The slogan ‘Choose Life’ sounds innocent,” says Silver, “but in fact it is the rallying cry and mantra for a movement that resorts to death threats, arson, bombings and even murder to achieve their agenda.” Silver says of CPCs and their sponsors, “They say, ‘You’re a sinner, but we have the cure.’ It’s a way of manipulating [pregnant women’s] guilt. But, once the kids are born, they don’t care about them anymore.””

Not sounding so innocent anymore and it’s obviously not about children. These centers are the Underground Railroad in the war against women’s freedom. They use fraudulent tactics to scare women into not having an abortion, including referring to themselves as counselors (when they are not) and lecturing the women about a myriad of diseases and mental problems they falsely attribute to abortion. And while they attempt to terrorize women about the physical dangers of abortion, in fact giving birth is more dangerous to women than having an abortion.

So this isn’t about the children. It’s about maintaining control over a woman’s body and using the Christian/Catholic religion to do it. Religion has, of course, been used for this purpose more often than not – which makes sense since the Christian religion is run by and large by men. And that’s why anyone with any stake in maintaining their freedom is more than grateful to the founding fathers for their wise separation of church and state insistence as well as to the Supreme Court for holding that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion and that states can not restrict a woman’s right to an abortion IN ANY WAY in the first trimester. It seems that the state-agented CPC’s are indeed attempting to restrict a woman’s access to abortion in the first trimester as well as infringing upon her right to privacy.

If any doubt still remains as to the nefarious intention of the “Choose Life” slogan, Silver says that he suggested alternate slogans to the Choose Life advocates, such as “Adopt a Child”, but they held firm that it must read “Choose Life”.

So, where’s all of the state-agented money going? Is it going to help pregnant women? Well, 30 percent of it can go to advertising, in other words, propaganda, bait and switch ads and those horrid blood fests you see on the billboards across the country. But we don’t know how much they spend since their tax returns don’t itemize how they are spending the government’s money. These are the same people who preach “small government”, “fiscal conservatism” and “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”.

So our tax dollars are being used to fight women’s rights on the freeways across America and what is the counter response?

USA Today reported:

“License plates are not the place to have a thoughtful conversation about reproductive rights,” says Steve Trombley, president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Planned Parenthood has objected to the plates in numerous states for varying reasons. In some cases, legislatures approved a Choose Life plate but rejected a Choice plate, Trombley says. In addition, the plates typically raise funds for crisis pregnancy centers that the organization says provide “medically inaccurate and misleading information.”

Ah but we’re not having thoughtful debate, Steve. We’re selling Americans morality in three words or less as they speed down the highway of life.

While Steve is correct here, he is not going to win the war like that. Pro-all lifers (that would include people who support children after they are born, people against the death penalty, people against unnecessary wars, people who are pro-women’s lives, etc) need to find a way to use government to fund a counter message war advocating for their legal freedoms.

Using secret routes funded or aided by government money to go after women’s freedoms is a big business. It’s very important to some people and yet they realize that they can’t be honest about it because the American people wouldn’t like it if they knew that they were lying to vulnerable, scared, sick or desperate women looking to exercise their rights over their own bodies. Abortion is personal and it has been decided that the government can’t force women into acting as breeders.

So the next time you see a “Choose Life” license plate whizzing past you on the freeway, know that behind that cute drawing of children lurks an agenda to steal women’s freedoms away by any means possible……and they’re getting the state government to go along with this.

Hat tip to Feministing

16 Replies to “Children First: the Underground Railroad War Against Women’s Freedom”

  1. This is a really important post about the misuse of government funds to promote a religious agenda. I shall spread the word that this is MUST READ.

  2. So, it’s okay for vanity plates to promote a wide variety of positions (too many to try to list) but if you want to promote adoption, or even by your liberal (generous not ideological) interpretation, a “Pro-Life” position, we are to get all up in arms about it?

    I’m sorry but I just can’t agree with that. I don’t see it as Government promoting anything as much as providing a method for people that want to express this sentiment to do so and donate a couple of extra dollars to the State in the process. If people are truly interested, intelligent, and take a moment to understand the whole process, it’s easy to discern the “Government” isn’t promoting anything. Seriously Sarah (and Jason), by the criteria you attempt to set forth here, when someone purchases a plate that says, “LUVMYBMW” then the state would be promoting the BMW automobile!

    I don’t know. I respect your commentary. Even almost agree with….well….one? :-) But I think this one smacks somewhat of an hysterical opposition without being well thought out.

    (For the record, I’m pro-education about ALL the alternatives when it comes to abortion. I guess that places me somewhere in the middle but leaning more heavily toward “Pro-Life”.)

  3. For those interested in the court challenges:

    Across the country, federal judges have issued myriad opinions on the issue, but the facts also differ from case to case:

    From Huff Po 2009 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/15/choose-life-license-plate_n_186993.html)

    “Legislatures can say there might be certain controversies they do not want discussed on license plates,” Assistant New Jersey Attorney General Andrea Silkowitz argued Tuesday in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court, referring to an Illinois case.
    Silkowitz argued that her state rejected the “Choose Life” plate not to avoid controversy but because the relevant law limits designs to group names and logos, and does not permit slogans….

    _ In Illinois, a federal judge found the General Assembly had rejected a plate featuring the words “Choose Life” only because of its politically controversial nature, and found that discriminatory.
    _ In Arizona, the 9th U.S. Circuit also found discriminatory the state’s decision to reject the “Choose Life” message so as “not to enter the Choose Life/Pro-Choice debate.”
    _ The 4th U.S. Circuit Court in Richmond told South Carolina officials they could not approve “Choose Life” plates without also allowing abortion-rights plates.

  4. Excellent and important article, and as a life-long feminist I couldn’t agree more. However, I am perplexed as to why you’ve used the analogy of the Underground Railroad which was a completely positive thing for everyone except the owners of slaves and the supporters of slavery. It seems to me it’s the ANTI-abortion crowd who would more likely think of this movement as the Underground Railroad of the abortion wars.

  5. You’re right about that; I actually had that debate with my editor after I wrote it last night, but I decided to stay with it for the imagery because the idea of the underground movement as opposed to above board clearly spoke to what they’re doing here. I think in retrospect it was not the correct analogy because it evokes positive feelings of bravery; however, seeing as the Right hates any kind of civil rights movement, it pleased me to connect them to such. Thanks for the well thought out comment.

  6. Interesting discussion. I really want to say more but am “time challenged” at the moment but did want to make this correction. (?)

    The “State” is funding nothing as best I can determine. They are simply allowing a process or venue for people to practice their First Amendment Right and express their opinion. And come on guys! Really, in a fairly subtle manner.

    As best I can determine, you pay an ADDITIONAL fee for the plate while still rendering to the State their normal fees for the plates. The state then deducts an administrative fee (extra revenue for the government) and sends the rest to the organization concerned. My guess, though I haven’t researched it, is that specifying that no funds go to (simplified description) Abortion Efforts would be to clear any hurdles concerning taxpayer funds being spent on abortions. (I think I’m correct that is the current law.)

    It’s misleading to assert this is a “State Funded” effort. You pay extra for the privilege of putting your opinion on your license plate. And as a bonus, the State gets a cut and STILL gets full funds for their license and registration.

    If I’m wrong, correct me but be nice. :-) And by the way, when prostitution is legal across the nation I will take more seriously the laments of the “It’s My Body- My Choice” groups.

    http://bit.ly/e1husa

  7. Yes ma’am. But your article states, “So our tax dollars are being used…” and “…find a way to use government to fund a counter message…” and “Using secret routes funded or aided by government money…” (Aided perhaps, but certainly not funded.) I find those statements, and perhaps, the premise of your article somewhat misleading.

    As I understand it, you have tried to make the case that the “General Welfare of Women” is somehow being harmed by these plates, “…selling Americans morality in three words or less…”, and that it is being accomplished through the use of Government Funding.

    I would respectfully disagree with the first. And claim the second is simply untrue. Also respectfully.

    Thank you for allowing me to state my opinion. However right or wrong (shyaeah!! right!! ;-) ) it may be.

  8. Also, I want to know how is behind the nefarious Radical, Left Wing Liberal plot to assign me such a goofy looking Avatar?? :-)

  9. Hank, you can upload the avatar of your choosing:-) It’s a veritable free for all of liberalism here ; Hedonism rules and no one works:-) (Wink wink)

  10. Well, I do believe that misleading women in need harms them – it’s fraudulent advertising at the very least, but it’s pretty serious to call yourself a counselor and not actually be there to help people but rather have an agenda.

    As for the state funds, since Florida gives these folks 20 dollars for each plate they sell, that is government money and the ChooseLife people do not break down on their tax returns how they spend “government dollars” – I think it’s safe to say the government is paying for some of this. At any rate, the tricky part is that they use the state as an agent and while I have no problem with them pushing for their moral beliefs, I do have a problem with their dishonesty about their agenda and with using the state to do so, esp when the state does not allow similar pushes for opposing views.

    I am also simply not convinced (as many of the judges point out) that a license plate is the place for a debate about Roe V Wade. And since these folks are pushing religious beliefs, it does beg the questions of the line in the sand re separation of church and state. But again, they aren’t honest about this- they claim they are pro-adoption people, but that’s not a completely accurate account of their purpose at all, since they fund the CPC with the money and their purpose is to avoid abortion.

    What I left out of this article (but you can follow the links to read) is the horrific stories of women who have gone to these CPCs and how they’ve been lied to and manipulated. They are pursuing their legal right per SCOTUS and no one has the right to interfere in that pursuit. That’s just the law. Are these folks interfering? Yes, they are. Deliberately with with deceptive practices.

    You are always welcome to post your views here, so long as you don’t violate the terms of service, which you have not.

  11. “As for the state funds, since Florida gives these folks 20 dollars for each plate they sell, that is government money…”

    I don’t understand that to be accurate. It is a fee they pay for the privilege (?) of getting that particular vanity plate. That fee is above and beyond the actual state fees for the license. The customer still pays the normal cost of the plate to the state. But the state DOES exact an administrative charge from the fee paid for the plate. So it is extra revenues for the state and allows 1st amendment rights to the person that desires to state his preferences on his license plate.

    I think one could make an argument for “propriety” but it would be the same argument as allowing risque or profane bumper stickers. All falls under freedom of speech.

    Anyway, I think there are much more important things to debate these days than an innocuous few words on a license plate that an individual is willing to lay down an extra 20 or 30 dollars for the privilege of displaying, while also fattening the state coffers another couple of bucks.

    While we’re distracted with this, no telling what Palin might be doing!! My God!! She may even be going for a manicure today!! ;-)

  12. This is a quote from the 11th Circuit when the opponents of the Choose Life plate in Florida tried for the 3rd time to stop the state from offering the plate, without ever applying for their own plate.
    “The Choose Life statute does not in any way restrict or prohibit
    Appellants’ speech. Nothing in the Choose Life statute
    prevents Appellants from applying for or gaining entrance
    to the specialty license plates forum. The First Amendment
    protects the right to speak; it does not give Appellants the
    right to stop others with opposing viewpoints from
    speaking.”
    Florida also offers “Save the Panther” plates, but the folks from “Save the Sea Turtles” did not file suit against them because they did not get any of those funds. It would be absurd to expect people who buy Choose Life license plates to support organizations that support aborting the very children they are trying to save and place with loving families.

  13. They aren’t supposed to pay for it. no one asked them to pay for it. The courts all over the country had a problem with this since they didn’t grant rights to prochoice groups. How did you miss that?

  14. Sarah, I am wondering if you have had any luck in finding out how choose life is funded. I just saw my first choose life plate in ma and tried to point out to the group on facebook how the same people who insist that no government money go to women’s reproductive choice insist on their rights to a gov’t granted license plate. Of course the answer I received came right from their talking points about how no general tax dollars are spent and the plates are paid for by the people who choose them despite the fact that the plates are gov’t sanctioned and labor costs etc are paid for out of general registry (aka tax) resources. So I thought ok i’ll just start a pro-choice plate and we can have a kind of public opinion poll on the highway. So this took me to the mass rmv website where it states that a hefty $100,000 bond must be posted or 1500 plates must be preordered at $40 each to begin the process of offering so-called charity license plates. So it seems as if possibly that there are some large unnamed donors to choose life and I was wondering if you have had any luck uncovering them. Guidestar.org is no help as chooselife inc. doesn’t seem to do any financial reporting. Thank you for your article.

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