In May of 2011, in the midst of various other anti-abortion measures, Texas lawmakers approved SB 257, authored by Representative Larry Phillips, a Republican from Sherman, and Senator John Carona, a Republican from Dallas. The bill allowed for the sale of state-issued specialty "Choose Life" license plates: For a mere $30, you can now purchase a set of plates adorned with beaming, crayon-drawn children, $22 of which goes to the office of the Attorney General Greg Abbott. From there, according to Texas' Vehicle Title and Registration Services, it's distributed to "qualified organizations who provide counseling and material assistance to pregnant women who are considering placing their children for adoption."
Those "qualified organizations" include, chiefly, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. That's despite several attempted amendments to the Choose Life bill by House Democrats, who tried repeatedly to get the money allocated to licensed maternity homes or early childhood intervention efforts, both of which, as the Texas Observer pointed out at the time, had suffered deep budget cuts at the hands of the House.
In December, a North Carolina judge ruled the Choose Life plates in that state to be unconstitutional because the state wouldn't also offer a pro-choice alternative. The plates in Texas remain unchallenged, though. And while we don't have data yet on how many of Texas' Choose Life plates have sold, we do know where the proceeds are: sitting in the Texas AG's office. On Friday afternoon, Abbott's staff sent out a press release, announcing the appointment of a "Choose Life Advisory Committee" that will determine where that money goes.
Obviously, Abbott's advisory committee represents a broad range of adoption and family services agencies from all sides of the political spectrum, who will put aside any religious or political agenda to disburse the money to worthy, reputable entities.
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Just kidding. The committee members all appear, surprise, to be deeply anti-abortion, many of them longtime supporters and board members of various crisis pregnancy centers. Some of them are also rather well-connected politically. The AG's office provided biographies of each person, a couple with some curious omissions.
Kathy Haigler, for example, is described as an "advocate for adoption" and board member for Texas Alliance for Life, which is certainly true. She's also a former member of the State Republican Executive Committee and the former secretary of the Republican Party of Texas. She ran for a county commissioner spot in Caldwell County a couple years back.
Committee member Carol Everett is described as "involved for many years in issues related to women's reproductive health choices," a former "owner of abortion facilities" who "had a change of heart." In English, that means that Everett spent six years working for an abortion provider before experiencing a "profound conversion" and starting a string of crisis pregnancy centers, the Heidi Group, which she told LifeSite news she named after her "own aborted daughter." Speaking to the Pro-Life Action League of Chicago, she described abortion clinics as "really one of Satan's strongholds."
The token Democrat is Lois Kerschen, who, as the AG's press release notes, is also the president of Democrats for Life of Texas. She and fellow committee members Julie Stobbe, Matt Kouri, Dr. Mikael Love and Judy Canon have all worked for or served on the advisory committees of crisis pregnancy centers. Just in case you had any illusion that a dime of the money from the license plates might go anywhere else.