Messages on a license plate have the power to transform lives. No one knows this better than Christine Accurso, executive director of First Way Pregnancy Center in Phoenix.
“I know of a few women who were literally at an intersection, getting ready to pull into an abortion clinic, and the license plate in front of them said ‘Choose Life,’” Accurso said. “That provided all the determination and inspiration in the world for them to, as one woman told me, see God’s face, be able to turn away from abortion and seek help by talking to family and friends. Just that little, tiny sign on the license plate.”
Arizona drivers continue to have the option of purchasing a specialty plate that bears the phrase, “Choose Life” prior to the plate number. Facial drawings of a boy and girl sit above the phrase. Drivers — including Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted — have ordered the specialty plate since the design became available in 2009.
The “Choose Life” plates offer a message of hope and provide gateways for dialogue concerning the pro-life mission, said Benta Clark, president of Arizona Life Coalition. The funds acquired by purchasing these plates help pro-life organizations in the area that do not receive federal grants or government funding, Clark said.
“This is a way that people can literally take their faith and their belief in the value of life, and put it towards something that is a day-to-day action. It’s making a daily action, like driving down the street, a way that you can advocate for life,” she said.
When drivers purchase a “Choose Life” license plate, $17 of the $25 application fee goes to Arizona Life Coalition. Funds in turn, through a grant process, provide direct assistance to women seeking abortion alternatives.
First Way Pregnancy Center is one of several organizations that have received grants. Funds have ensured a bilingual peer counselor is available during office hours the past two years.
A “Choose Life” license plate sale also assists First Way with the cost of providing services such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, options counseling, education classes for both men and women, as well as material support.
The idea of creating “Choose Life” license plates originated in Florida but has since spread to Arizona and 28 additional states. It’s one of 49 specialty plates available in the Grand Canyon State.
“There were very strong leaders, lawyers, executive directors of many organizations, including the Center for Arizona Policy, that helped to get the plates on the ground in Arizona,” Clark said. “It was definitely a worthwhile effort.”
Purchasing a plate helps all who are engaged in pro-life efforts to speak with one voice, she added. “I truly believe that we will see the end of abortion and other social issues when people are unified together, when we put aside our organizational differences and work as one body.”
Some are even putting aside their political stance. Accurso can think of some people “who are not completely pro-life” that support First Way.
“What they love about us is the fact that we are there to fully support a woman in her choice, educate her, accompany her on this journey and help her even after the baby is born.
Everyone thinks we are in such camps, pro-life or pro-choice,” Accurso said, “but if a woman wants to try to keep her baby, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to help her.”