- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gov. Tim Kaine on Monday signed a bill that will allow Virginia motorists to obtain license plates with the message “Choose Life,” joining 23 other states that issue plates with the pro-life slogan.

Mr. Kaine - a Catholic who describes himself as personally pro-life but who has said he does not think doctors performing or women getting abortions should be criminalized - said he signed the legislation “in keeping with the commonwealth’s longtime practice of approving specialty plates with all manner of political and social messages.”

The Democrat-controlled state Senate approved the license plates after Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II attached the proposal to an omnibus license- plate bill that would add to the 200 other specialty license plates already available in the state. New plates include those that hail the Washington Capitals and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

“I was pretty pleased with it,” said Mr. Cuccinelli, Fairfax Republican. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Specialty license plates are only issued after at least 350 motorists pay the necessary fee. Mr. Cuccinelli said that as of two months ago the state had received more than 450 prepaid applications for the plates, which should be visible on Virginia highways beginning about July.

“I know my wife wants one,” he said.

Of every $25 raised from purchasing the Choose Life plates, $15 will go toward funding 40 crisis-pregnancy centers across the state.

Mr. Cuccinelli previously tried to have Choose Life plates passed as a stand-alone bill, but that was killed in the Senate Transportation Committee after a 6-6 tie.

The assembly previously voted to legalize the plates in 2003, but pro-choice Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, vetoed the bill.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia opposed the specialty plate and organized a letter-writing campaign urging Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, to veto the bill.

Jessica Honke, director of public policy for the organization, said the group was “extremely disappointed with Governor Kaine’s decision to approve a Choose Life plate.”

“The fact that the governor and the General Assembly wasted time and resources debating whether or not to further fund deceptive nonmedical establishments is shameful,” she said. “Virginia will now have a national reputation as a state that puts ideological policies before women’s health.”

Mr. Kaine also said that if an organization such as Planned Parenthood sought a specialty license plate, he thinks he would be constitutionally compelled to honor the request.