Rhode Island Governor Makes Sure License Plates Don't Become Religious Propaganda

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would have allowed a pro-life Christian organization, CareNet, to raise funds by selling custom "choose life" license plates. Pro-life advocates are worked up over the decision, but they shouldn't be: Your opinion on abortion has no place on a state-issued license plate.

Chafee claimed it would be inappropriate for a religious organization to use state license plates for fundraising. In his veto message, he wrote that the only purpose of a license plate is to "register and identify a motor vehicle." Chafee also suggested that passing the bill would violate the separation of church and state.

State lawmakers approved the plates earlier this month. To pass the law, three-fifths of the General Assembly would have to vote to override Governor Chafee's veto. However, this outcome is unlikely, considering House Speaker Gordon Fox also opposes the bill.

According to ABC News, 29 states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, offer similar license plates options.

Unsurprisingly, CareNet and other anti-abortion advocates are not very happy with Chafee's decision, claiming he is grossly "out of step with New England Democrats" and has revealed his "extremism." Sigh.

Governor Chafee made the right decision. License plates are regulated by the state. This should have raised a red flag for anyone who thought this was a good idea!  Not to mention, license plates only serve one purpose – to identify cars. Additionally, there are plenty of other ways to advertise your religious and political beliefs. By including "I'm pro-abortion" or "I'm anti-abortion" messages on your license plate, you will annoy other drivers just as much as those who include stick figure stickers of their families on their back windshield.

CareNet's disapproval on Chafee's decision is also out of place because the decision has nothing to do with opposing abortion alternatives, like they claim. Just because he doesn't want to mix abortion politics with state-issued license plate designs doesn't mean he doesn't support options for women who aren't seeking abortions, like help centers and adoption.

But for those of you who still feel so strongly that you need to display your opinion on abortion, then why don't you pay the extra $50 to have your license plate say "chs l1fe" or some other phrase that shows your opinion? How about buying yourself a bumper sticker?  

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Bianca Facchinei

Recent graduate from St. Joseph's University with a BA in English and concentration in politics and communications. You can see the rest of my work at biancarfacchinei.wordpress.com. Feel free to send me an email at brfacchinei@gmail.com.

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