A Wakefield woman is spearheading efforts to bring a specialty license plate to Massachusetts that encourages adoption over abortion, even though similar plates in other states have brought legal challenges.
Merry Nordeen, who opposes abortion, is gathering support for a “Choose Life” license plate, part of a nationwide effort by abortion opponents to raise money for groups that support adoption.
She recently started an Internet campaign to collect $40 checks from 3,000 people who are interested in the plates. If she gathers enough support, she can bring her proposal to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The plate design Nordeen proposes is yellow, with the words “Choose Life” written in a child’s writing and with childlike drawings of a young boy and girl.
Massachusetts already has a dozen specialty plates that help support environmental, charitable and sports-related causes.
But in some of the 12 states that already have “Choose Life” plates, critics have filed lawsuits claiming the plates are political statements. The possibility of a similar plate in Massachusetts is already drawing criticism.
“Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts believes that state government should not be sanctioning political messages on license plates,” Diane Luby, the group’s president and chief executive said in a statement. “Specialty plates are an important source of revenue for causes like cancer research and environmental protection. They shouldn’t be used for political slogans.”
If “Choose Life” plates are approved in Massachusetts, a portion of the $40 fee would go to groups supported by the Massachusetts Choose Life chapter, headed by Nordeen and her husband, Kenneth, who have six children.
Nordeen said the money would go to anti-abortion organizations, pregnancy counseling groups and adoption agencies.
The legal battles over the plates could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lower federal courts have differed in their opinions on whether the plates should be allowed.
In Tennessee, the American Civil Liberties Union argues that the state is violating the free speech rights of some residents by allowing political messages on license plates, including “Choose Life”, but banning other plates that support abortion rights.
The ACLU asked the Supreme Court earlier this week to rule that “Choose Life” plates should not be allowed in Tennessee.
“With all these cases cropping up around the country, it seems the Supreme Court needs to provide some framework for how these cases should be resolved,” Said Brigitte Amiri, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s reproductive freedom project. “There’s clearly confusion among the federal courts about what the proper results should be.”
Specialty plates on Massachusetts do not require legislative approval, meaning an abortion rights group could apply for its own plate, a registry spokeswoman said.
Visit ChooseLife MA’s website