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Pro-choice license plates on California’s horizon

Suggested options for a California pro-choice license plate.

Twenty-eight states currently offer “Choose Life” license plates, but California may be the first state in the country offering solely pro-choice plates.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, proposes specialized pro-choice license plates that would read “California Trusts Women” accompanied by a design. Her bill, SB 309, is sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California, which advocates on behalf of legal and accessible abortion.

The “California Trusts Women” plates would raise money for the Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (Family PACT) Program.

Under the terms of the bill, which has been passed by the Senate and awaits action in the Assembly, the plates would cost $50 initially and $40 annually thereafter. The plates would be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, once 7,500 California residents order them. The Legislature ultimately will determine how much money from each plate will go to Family PACT, based on a formula in the bill.

The reproductive freedom plate would join 14 other special interest license plates available through the DMV that raise money for a number of agencies including the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Arts Council, California Coastal Commission and Lake Tahoe and Yosemite Conservancy.

The “California Trusts Women” plates would raise money for the Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (Family PACT) Program.

Family PACT provides contraception, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, cancer screening and counseling to 1.8 million low income California residents through more than 2,000 different providers.

Planned Parenthood California, a beneficiary of Family PACT funds, would be unable to adequately serve nearly a million people if the Trump administration permanently cuts it from Medicaid as part of its effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The proposed cut is contained in the draft federal budget.

An illustration of the proposed plate on a vehicle. (Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly)

“SB 309 will provide a way for Californians who are deeply troubled by the federal attack on women’s rights and health care to take their values ‘to the street’ while providing a vital funding mechanism for California’s network of reproductive health care providers,” Jackson said in a statement.

This month, NARAL Pro-Choice California teamed up with Jackson to craft three possible designs for the reproductive freedom license plates.

The public can now view and vote on the artist’s designs at CaliforniaTrustsWomen.com. The final design will be announced in the fall.

Amy Everitt, State Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, said the plates represented “an opportunity for Pro-Choice California to stand up and say, ‘I believe in reproductive freedom and I’m going to put it on my car because it is a value that is so dear to me.’”

Not everybody agrees.

The California ProLife Council opposes Jackson’s bill. The measure celebrate’s abortion, which “kills a unique human being with a beating heart genetically distinct from the mother and dependent on the mother for protection and sustenance,” said Council Executive Director Brian Johnston.

Virginia is currently the only state with pro-life and pro-choice license plates available.

The “California Trusts Women” slogan on the license plates was inspired by the late Dr. George Tiller.

Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist while serving as an usher during Sunday morning church service. He was one of few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions for more than three decades leading up to his death in 2009.

“Women are autonomous, smart people, who make good decisions and he was going to trust us,” Everitt said, of Tiller and his work.

Virginia is currently the only state with pro-life and pro-choice license plates available. Fifteen dollars of the $25 cost of Virginia’s “Trust Women, Respect Choice” plates support the state’s League for Planned Parenthood.

It is outlined in the bill and on Virginia’s DMV website that resources from the plates specifically cannot fund abortion services, but California’s newest legislation has no such restriction.

Ed’s Note: Anna Frazier is a Capitol Weekly intern from the University of Arizona. 

 


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