Bill would create 'Choose Life' license plate in RI

A selection of 'Choose Life' license plates from other states.

Specialty plates for charities come in all varieties, whether it's sports teams or clean water.

In more than two dozen states, drivers can support anti-abortion organizations. Massachusetts and Connecticut have that option. Rhode Island soon may as well.

A bill creating a "Choose Life" license plate was heard in finance committee about two weeks ago, and it would steer money to the Knights of Columbus Culture of Life Fund.

One voter is opposed.

"It advertises a religious position, and in my mind this goes against the separation of church and state," Mary Chase, of East Providence, testified at the hearing.

For one of the opponents to the license plate, Planned Parenthood, the opposition is not just about the church association, but that a men's organization is lobbying about a women's health issue.

"Catholic gentlemen 18 years of age or older who are in good stead with the church, but since abortion is an intensely personal decision made by a woman, her family and with her physician," Paula Hodges testified.

But whether it's a religious position or supporting an exclusive organization, some say it should be allowed.

"If you want your money to go to the Jimmy Fund, you can purchase the Red Sox plate. If you want it to go to a pro-life organization, you can purchase the pro-life plate. If you want to give money to the food bank, you can buy that plate. It's whatever organization you want to donate to. So, I don't see a conflict in this in any way," state Rep. Doreen Costa, R-North Kingstown.

The Roman Catholic Diocese said the Knights of Columbus are not controlled by the church.

The National Organization for Women and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are opposed to the proposed license plate.

The bill was held for study. Even if it passes, the state would have to receive 900 orders to put it into production.