‘Choose life’ license plates neither vain nor profane

    “Is that woman glaring at me?” There was only one possible conclusion. It had to be the words “PA Choose Life” on my license plate.

    The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.

    Is that woman glaring at me?

    I was wrapping up another trip to the supermarket. The only two people occupying the outskirts of the suburban parking lot were a well-groomed, salt-and-pepper-haired baby boomer and me. So I assumed that I was the object of her displeasure.

    But why?

    It couldn’t be my driving. I’d only just loaded my white Honda CR-V with groceries and returned the shopping cart to its pen. As I opened my car door, I looked directly at my spectator. She shot back a steady evil eye. If looks could kill, I’d be a goner.

    I slipped into the driver’s seat, quickly closed the door and clicked the lock button. In the rearview mirror, I saw the woman still staring, about six feet behind my vehicle. Then she shook her head disdainfully and walked away.

    Whew! What was that all about?

    There was only one possible conclusion. It had to be the words “PA Choose Life” on my license plate.

    Pro-adoption

    Under different circumstances, I would have explained to the person who found my specialty license plate so offensive the reason why I spent the extra bucks on it. It wasn’t to make a political statement about abortion or — worse — to hurt the feelings of anyone who had already chosen abortion to end a pregnancy. My Pennsylvania license plate features two children’s smiling faces for a reason: All proceeds from sales of the “PA Choose Life” plates support women with unplanned pregnancies who choose adoption plans for their unborn babies.

    Why the phrase “choose life”? The Florida organization that created the program selected “choose life” after concluding that it would sell the most plates and raise more money for adoption efforts than “choose adoption” or “support adoption.” And the expression “choose life” has wide appeal — including those who oppose abortion and those who oppose the death penalty.

    My license plate cost $44. PennDOT got $24, and the remaining $20 was my donation to Pennsylvania Choose Life, Inc. That $20 goes directly to pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes. And, like me, plate holders may continue to support these operations by donating another $20 each year when they renew their vehicle registration.

    New Jersey and Delaware have similar programs.

    Adoption resources

    Pregnancy resource centers offer assistance to women who choose to remain pregnant in the form of free counseling; maternity and baby supplies; services such as financial, educational, vocational and housing assistance; adoption plan support if birthmothers choose adoption; and more. Once dubbed “crisis pregnancy centers,” they’re the products of grassroots efforts dating back decades to offer alternatives to abortion providers. Pregnancy resource centers are generally nonprofit and faith-based organizations. The majority of staffers are volunteers.

    Maternity homes, group homes where pregnant women considering the adoption option live until their babies are born, still exist. Today’s maternity homes are fewer and often have waiting lists, according to Adoption.com. Residents often live in maternity homes for free or pay a small fee. They might also apply for public assistance and Medicaid. Like pregnancy resource centers, most maternity homes offer counseling, birthing classes, and vocational or educational programs that allow women to complete high school or their GEDs.

    So, if you favor abortion rights, you might not like seeing my license plate at the local market. But should you be tempted to give me the evil eye, please remember that you’re giving it to someone who wants to make adoption an easier option for women with unwanted pregnancies.

    Indeed, my “PA Choose Life” plate helps pay for more than meets the eye — or the evil eye.

    Marybeth T. Hagan is the author of “Abortion: A Mother’s Plea for Maternity and the Unborn,” a Liguori/Triumph publication. Her commentaries and stories have been published by: The National Catholic Register, The Christian Science Monitor, The American Feminist, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, The [Philadelphia] Bulletin, The Philadelphia Tribune, The [Philadelphia] Catholic Standard & Times, The Delaware County Daily Times, Seven Mile Times [Avalon, N.J.], Sea Isle Times [Sea Isle City, N.J.].

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.