AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has announced the distribution of more than $46,000 in grants to over a dozen pro-life organizations in the state.
The funds come from the sale of “Choose Life” plates to Texas residents, as a portion of the $30 specialty plates is set aside for pro-life purposes.
In 2011, state legislators approved a measure sponsored by Representative Larry Phillips and Senator John Carona, which allowed for the creation and sale of the plates, and authorized the attorney general with the duty of “administering [subsequent] funds to encourage adoption as an alternative to abortion.”
According to Abbott’s office, nearly 2,300 plates have been sold, generating over $52,000 in funds. This week, over $46,000 was allotted to pro-life organizations in the state.
“Every day across Texas, children are adopted into loving families who provide for their needs and raise them to be healthy and happy adults,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Choose Life grants will enable recipient organizations to build on the good work they are already doing and help adoption become a reality for even more children and families in the Lone Star State.”
Abbott, a Roman Catholic, had organized a Choose Life Advisory Committee earlier this year, as sanctioned under the 2011 law to “review and make recommendations to the attorney general on applications submitted to the attorney general for grants funded with money credited to the ‘Choose Life’ account.”
In all, 13 organizations were approved for the grant, including Austin Life Care, Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services, Houston Pregnancy Health Center and the Gladney Center for Adoption.
Currently, 29 states offer “Choose Life” plates to residents, and legal battles are being fought in two states—New York and North Carolina—over their constitutionality.
As previously reported, last December, a federal judge appointed by Ronald Reagan ordered officials in North Carolina to stop producing pro-life license plates unless it also makes available plates that favor abortion.
U.S. District Court Judge James Carroll Fox said that the current “Choose Life” plates amount to “viewpoint discrimination” and are therefore unconstitutional.
“This court concludes … that the states’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment,” Fox wrote.
He pointed to the 2004 case of Planned Parenthood v. Rose, in which the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, declared unconstitutional a law that allowed the creation of “Choose Life” license plates. The ruling, written by Judge Michael Luttig, appointed by George H.W. Bush, with a concurrence of two Clinton-appointed justices, stated that both viewpoints surrounding abortion must be represented in order for the law to be permissible.
The case is now also before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is fighting against the plates.