Although the Legislature tabled two pro-life bills from being sent to the floor Friday morning, a bill to allow “Choose Life” license plates to benefit Choose Life Wisconsin could pass out of committee Tuesday.
The bill would give Wisconsin residents the option to adopt a “Choose Life” license plate, which has the phrase “Choose Life” under the license plate number and a picture of a baby’s footprint to the left of the license plate number. An appropriation from the license plate would also go directly to help fund Choose Life Wisconsin.
The prospect of such a license plate was met with opposition from some, including Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton, who also serves as the Democratic ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Transportation.
“I don’t think that we should use our license plates to do political messaging or motivation kind of things,” Bernard-Schaber said. “I think our license plates should be politically neutral.”
Bernard-Schaber also said she was opposed to “Choose Life” license plates for their lack of provision of bylaws, along with current tax-exempt status.
Choose Life Wisconsin is a nonprofit, intended to serve the interests of the public, that creates pregnancy care centers statewide. However, its application to be tax-exempt was still pending at the public hearing in late September, president Julaine Appling said during the hearing.
Matt Sande, CLW vice president, also said the organization would pay all production costs upfront through an amendment proposing a presale for the bill.
Sande added Choose Life Wisconsin had raised enough money to cover all manufacturing costs up front without presale, leaving no fiscal impact on the state.
Legislative supporters of the bill also believe there is no political agenda to the license plates or the organizations that are supporting the “Choose Life” plates, a sentiment echoed by bill sponsor Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin.
“It has nothing to do with a political agenda,” Lazich said. “It has to do with saving the lives of babies. If some feel it’s political, that’s their definition. I think saving babies’ lives is a matter of life and death. If some believe that’s political, that is very sad.”
Bill author Rep. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, said he thought it is a commentary on those who seek “to politicize or condemn” volunteers who are “providing love and their own resources for the vulnerable members of society.”
Jacque added he felt confident about the bill’s passage out of committee and, ultimately, the Legislature.
“It’s something that has quite a bit of legislative support,” Jacque said. “I would hope we’ll find very strong support from the Legislature support beyond getting out of the committee, which I’m very confident it’s going to pass out of committee next week.”
Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Cross Plains, said she disagreed with the bill’s purpose, although she did admit that it was likely the bill would pass out of committee.
Pope-Roberts said she was most concerned about money going to centers that “coerce” women to keep their baby instead of being concerned with the health of the mother.
“The patient’s health isn’t their concern,” Pope-Roberts said.
Wisconsin Family Action and Wisconsin Right to Life declined comment.