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A Tale of Two Words

By: Gary McCaleb

For six years, the legal battle was joined in Arizona, as the Alliance Defense Fund and allied attorneys battered against stonewalling state officials who were determined – in the face of every legal precedent – to block applications for a “Choose Life” license plate.

The donnybrook of motions and counter motions finally climaxed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where judges ruled in favor of ADF and those asking nothing more than the freedom to use their license plates to encourage people to support childbirth and adoption.

After the decision, I watched as a reporter approached our allied attorney.  He quickly got to his zinger: “Isn’t this way too much fuss over two words?  Does anyone really care?”  

I laughed out loud.  How many of his paper’s advertisers, I wondered, would turn up their noses at the chance to have two words of their choosing displayed on thousands upon thousands of automobiles across America?  How many politicos would love that opportunity?  And how many unborn children – if they could speak the longing of their hearts—would say: “Choose Life?”

Now 24 states approve “Choose Life” license plates, a true “win-win” for pro-life advocates: not only do these plates spread the message, but a portion of the license fees goes to pro-life groups.  

Unfortunately, even such a benign phrase – and the mere suggestion that a pregnant woman should become a mom rather than a post-abortive woman – is enough to send illiberal leftists into tizzies.  Sometimes those tizzies played out in state legislatures, where politicians refused to allow “Choose Life” plates to be issued.  Other times they played out in court, with the abortion industry suing in states where legislatures authorized the plates. That the abortionists lost in all of the nearly dozen states where cases went to court can be attributed to two key factors: 

First, the ability of ADF to fund these cases and link allied attorneys with our own staff litigators.  In Ohio, for instance, a legal team composed of staff and allied attorneys represented three pro-life groups against the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).  Over the course of a year and a half, ADF blocked every NARAL strategy, to the point that the League ultimately abandoned the case … leaving the pro-life groups victorious.

"The abortionists lost in all of the nearly dozen states where cases went to court."

And in Missouri – where unique state laws allowed a handful of legislators to block issuance of a Choose Life license plate based on little more than their personal whims – another ADF team of staff and allied attorneys successfully sued on behalf of the state Choose Life organization.

The second reason that the anti-life forces kept losing these license plate cases is, simply put, the character of the pro-life individuals ADF represented.   These clients were willing to take their cases to court and let us defend them there … in some cases, for years on end.  

Time after time, these courageous, tenacious individuals took on the giants of the abortion industry – and doggedly pursued them through depositions, document reviews, strategy discussions, court hearings, and the long, long periods of waiting for a decision.  

Throughout these years of battle, these men and women were gracious, presenting an unswerving love and concern for defenseless unborn children – and for spurned children born alive and cast into an uncaring world.  Through their depositions and the legal arguments on their behalf, they forced the other side to hear words of grace and life.  

If we continue to be blessed with such extraordinary clients … if the faithful Ministry Friends of ADF continue to support this tireless fight for life … maybe it’s only a matter of time before we see all Americans “choose life.”

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