The official Kentucky CHOOSE LIFE license plate has been a huge boost to the state’s pregnancy help centers that provide information, practical resources, and support for women facing unplanned pregnancies. This outstanding work was recognized and honored by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly’s passage of House Concurrent Resolution 152.
Though the pregnancy help centers need the funds to do what they do, the big winners in the CHOOSE LIFE license plate project have always been the Kentucky women who are caught in untimely pregnancies and who do not feel that they have life-giving options. Since 100 percent of the money generated by the plates goes to the local pregnancy help centers that dot the state, it is the women in need that experience the most meaningful impact from the funds given. (The Family Foundation contributes the cost of the annual audit, as well as the administrative and distribution expenses.)
“I like the fact that the local centers themselves end up receiving more of the credit that is due them for their compassionate work,” said Kent Ostrander, founder of The Family Foundation. “Every day they have local residents driving around their community with CHOOSE LIFE ‘advertising’ on the rear of their cars. When seen by others, the local center is remembered for the important, sacrificial work that they do.”
Currently, in Kentucky, there are about 50 pregnancy help center offices. They range significantly in staff and budget, yet each is committed to the well-being of the mother in need and the health of her child. Since the license plate’s inception, over $400,000 has been raised to help the centers and the women they serve.
The Family Foundation began working with pregnancy help centers across the state in the early 1990s and formed the Kentucky Association of Pregnancy Care Centers in 1994.
The Choose Life plates were ultimately a result of the efforts of Sen. Jack Westwood (R-Crescent Springs) and Rep. Hubert Collins (D-Wittensville). Westwood had sponsored a bill to authorize a Choose Life license plate in 2003 and 2004. Though it passed through the Senate each session, it died each time in the House. In 2005, Westwood and Collins worked together on a compromise bill that won legislative approval and established a protocol for the creation of all types of specialty license plates.
That Fall, The Family Foundation, along with the state’s pregnancy help centers and Christian radio stations, launched an effort to secure the 900 plate applications specified by the protocol before the state would begin production. At $25 each, that meant raising $22,500.
On Feb. 1, 2006, Sen. Westwood and Kent Ostrander, of The Family Foundation, delivered over 1100 applications for the plates to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and production began shortly thereafter.
The plates themselves had been available since September 2006, but the final regulations and procedures for the donations that are collected by the state at each purchase took more time to promulgate. It was on Monday, March 19, 2007 that the last step was put in place and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet sent instructions to the state’s 120 County Clerks explaining how to collect the $10 donation with each plate.
The “Choose Life” license plate is actually available in the majority of states, not just Kentucky. It first went on sale in Florida in 2000 through the work of Russ Amerling. He has successfully made the “Choose Life” plate available in at least 30 states and the District of Columbia. He continues his work to secure “Choose Life” plates in every state.