Groups React to Gov. Chafee's Veto of the "Choose Life" License Plate

Jul 18, 2013

Governor Lincoln Chafee has vetoed a bill that would have authorized the issuance of a “choose life” license plate.  Although many other states have such a plate, Chafee said it flies in the face of Rhode Island’s longstanding respect for the separation of church and state.

Governor Lincoln Chafee, a longstanding abortion rights advocate, vetoed the ‘choose life license plate’ on the grounds that it steers money to a religious organization and therefore violates the separation of church and state.  A portion of the proceeds generated by sale of the plate would have gone to CareNet Pregnancy Center of Rhode Island, which according to its website helps women facing unplanned pregnancies by quote, “offering them real choices.”

Planned Parenthood of southern New England president Judy Tabar praised the veto, saying CareNet provides inaccurate information to patients to conform with its anti-abortion mission.

"The state of Rhode Island should not collaborate with organizations that do not support a woman, help her make decisions for herself and her family and enable her to take care of her health and well being," said Tabar.

The Rhode Island Right to Life Committee, by contrast, was outraged by the governor’s veto.  Barth Bracy, the committee’s director, accused the governor of hiding behind the church/state separation principle.

"We think that Governor Chafee’s veto reveals an extremism on abortion that may be consistent with his position on the national board of NARAL but appears to be grossly out of step with that of other New England democrats," said Bracy.

Lawmakers could try to override the veto before their next legislative session starts in January but such a move is considered unlikely.

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