Pro-life and pro-choice license plates aren’t new to Virginia: The commonwealth has issued “Choose Life” plates since 2009 and “Trust Women. Respect Choice.” since 2010. As of the end of July, there were 3,221 pro-choice plates and 5,210 pro-life plates on the road, according to figures from the Virginia DMV.
Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, though, more people are buying pro-choice plates. That follows a trend at the DMV: Since July 2020, the number of pro-choice plates has gone up from 2,646, while the number of pro-life plates has decreased from 5,363. From June 22 to July 31 of this year, 135 people got new pro-choice license plates on their cars. That may not seem like many, but consider that the number of pro-choice license plates on the road increased by 178 from July 2020 to June 2021.
Virginia is one of the rare states that offers both pro-choice and pro-life license plates. In fact, only Virginia and Pennsylvania offer pro-choice license plates, while 34 states offer “Choose Life” license plates, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health policy. DC and Maryland both offer pro-life plates.
“Trust Women. Respect Choice.” plates cost $25, and $15 of the $25 fee goes directly to the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood. The money is not allowed to go to abortion care.
“Choose Life” plates were the brainchild of “Choose Life, Inc,” an anti-abortion advocacy group in Florida. In some states, the “Choose Life” plates help fund crisis pregnancy centers, which dissuade women from getting abortions. In Virginia, $15 of the $25 fee is donated to Heartbeat International, Inc. to distribute to these centers. Choose Life, Inc claims the plates have raised $29 million nationally.