Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Friday the creation of the Choose Life Advisory Committee, which will make recommendations for the use of funds from the sale of “Choose Life” license plates created by Texas lawmakers in 2011.
The committee was formed in response to SB 257, a bill sponsored by state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, and state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, which required the Department of Motor Vehicles to create a special “Choose Life” license plate. The program was authorized at the same time lawmakers cut funding for state family planning programs by two-thirds — $73 million — in the 2012-13 budget.
The funds raised by the license plates will be allocated to organizations that encourage adoption over abortion.
“Every child’s chance in life starts with a chance at life,” Abbott said.
Sales of the license plates have been three times greater than originally projected and have generated more than $30,000.
The committee is made of four women and two men. The members include Judy Canon, former regional coordinator for the Gladney Center for Adoption; Carol Everett, CEO of Heidi Group, a nonprofit that assists girls and women through unplanned pregnancies; Kathy Haigler, a board member of Texas Alliance for Life; Lois Kerschen, president of Democrats for Life of Texas; Matt Kouri, chairman of the Texas Adoption Review Committee; Mikeal Love, a gynecologist from Austin; and Julie Stobbe, founder of Act of Life, an adoption awareness organization.
Abbott said funds from the license plates would go exclusively to centers that encourage adoption and that he will be relying heavily on recommendations of the committee when allocating the money.
According to Choose Life America, an advocacy group for the license plates, 29 states offer similar plates. Some states, though, have rejected the plates as unconstitutional.
A federal judge ruled in December that the anti-abortion license plates were unconstitutional in North Carolina unless an option for abortion rights advocates was also offered.
Abbott said that he hasn't seen a valid legal challenge from opponents of the license plates in Texas, which he described as an extension of freedom of speech. When pressed about potential exceptions to abortion, such as if the life of the mother is at risk, Abbott said that the mission of “Choose Life” was to protect all lives.
“When you start putting exceptions into that, you are saying that some children’s lives are not as important,” he said.