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Texas House gives early OK to "Choose Life" license plate

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Story republished with permission from the Texas Tribune

AUSTIN (TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG) -- A bill directing the Department of Motor Vehicles to create an anti-abortion license plate to raise money for crisis pregnancy and adoption services got an early OK from the House on Tuesday — and staved off a flurry of amendments from Democrats. 

"Oklahoma has 'Choose Life' license plates. So do 24 other states," said Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, and the House sponsor of the bill. "I think it's time for us to go ahead and get this legislation passed."

Texas has specialty license plates for a variety of causes, from animal welfare to the outdoors. Republicans want a "Choose Life" license plate to raise funds for charitable organizations that help pregnant women considering adoption, by providing everything from prenatal care to food, clothing and shelter. 

But Democrats said it's discriminatory to authorize an anti-abortion license plate when there isn't an abortion-rights alternative. Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, said it could open up Texas to a lawsuit.

"I'm not worried about Planned Parenthood if they want to file a lawsuit," Phillips said, noting that the license plates are not "a political statement."

Democrats offered several amendments to change the tone of the license plate, including Farrar, who proposed a "Choose Adoption" license plate instead of "Choose Life" plate, and tried to redirect funds to early childhood intervention programs. The amendments were shot down. 

"We've tried for many sessions to get this bill passed," Phillips said, in refusing to support any amendments. "I'm not going to take a chance on not getting it through."

The bill must receive final approval before heading to the governor's desk.

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