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