Virginia Governor Signs Bill Creating Pro-Choice License Plate

Under a deadline, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signs bill to create the pro-choice "Trust Women" license plate but adds one final amendment to bill.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has at last signed the bill creating a Planned Parenthood-sponsored specialty license plate with the words: “Trust Women/Respect Choice.” Sales subsequent to the first 1,000 plates sold will will generate $15 for the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood. Virginia now becomes only the third state in the country to offer a pro-choice-themed license plate.

The bill initially was met by a degree of opposition unusual for a specialty license plate; the Virginia House originally passed a version with an amendment redirecting funds from the sale of the plates away from Planned Parenthood to a dormant state fund created in 2008 to assist women with unplanned pregnancies.

A conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate-passed versions restored the funding to Planned Parenthood before the bill was finally sent to the governor’s desk.

Gov. McDonnell did make one final change to the bill, adding an amendment prohibiting funds from the sale of the plate from being used to provide abortion services.

The Washington Post quotes his spokesperson:

“The Governor did not veto the specialty license plate bill requested by Planned Parenthood,” McDonnell spokeswoman Taylor Thornley said. “His amendment to the legislation simply codifies Planned Parenthood’s often-stated po sition that license plate proceeds will not be used for abortion services.”

In Virginia, the governor can amend all bills. Midnight was the deadline for him to amend, sign or veto bills.

Jessica Honke, director of public policy for the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood said “We have stated from the beginning that this money would not be used for abortion services. Instead, it would be used for comprehensive reproductive care such as, PAP smears, contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infection testing and treatment. We are pleased that Governor McDonnell decided to respect the First Amendment and allow the alternative viewpoint from that of the Pro-Life Plate.”

In 2009 then-Governor Tim Kaine signed a bill that created a “Choose Life” license plate through which funds were directed to Heartbeat International, a crisis pregnancy center.