January 8, 2013 — North Carolina officials intend to appeal a federal judge's ruling that it is unconstitutional for the state to offer license plates with the message "Choose Life" without also offering plates that support abortion rights, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports (AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 1/4).
In 2011, the state General Assembly approved the Choose Life plates but rejected proposals for plates with messages backing abortion rights. For each plate sold, $15 would go to not-for-profit crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion. However, the state has never manufactured any of the plates because of the legal dispute (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/11/12).
Notice of Appeal
The state on Friday filed a notice of appeal without comment.
Chris Brook -- legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation -- called the case a "clear-cut First Amendment issue." He added, "The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has consistently ruled that anytime the government creates an avenue for private speech, it cannot restrict that avenue to only one side of a contentious debate" (AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 1/4).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.