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NC Catholic Bishops Urge Support for "Choose Life" License Plate Bill

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The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte, called on Catholics of North Carolina and all who share the Christian faith and all who support the life of the unborn to correct what he called “an injustice” by encouraging state legislative leaders to allow the Choose Life specialty plate legislation to be brought up for a vote in both houses of the legislature.

Speaking on behalf of the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, who was in attendance, Bishop Jugis addressed a “Choose Life” rally in front of the Legislative Building on May 25. Noting that more than 120 specialty plates are available in North Carolina, Bishop Jugis said, “Only one, the Choose Life plate, has yet to receive even a vote by a committee after seven years of waiting. This is an injustice!”

Several lawmakers who are sponsoring the “Choose Life” specialty plate bill also spoke, including Representative Mitch Gillespie. It was pointed out that this is the eighth year a “Choose Life” bill has been introduced in the general assembly. If not approved this year, the next step will be to take the issue to court, which has been done successfully in other states. Currently, 24 states have a “Choose Life” license plate.

A statement was read from The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations that defend the right of people to freely live out their faith. The ADF, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, said it has been asked to evaluate the North Carolina Choose Life’s legal options, which it is privileged to do. “It would be unfortunate if the right to speak out on such a vital issue had to be fought and won in court once again, as it has in so many other places,” ADF wrote in its statement, “but ADF is prepared to do so.”

The rally, co-sponsored by North Carolina Right to Life, also featured remarks by Ms. Bobbie Meyer, state director of the North Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a coalition of pregnancy care centers. Ms. Meyer noted that a recent Civitan Poll indicates 68 percent of those surveyed said citizens should be allowed to display the “Choose Life” plate, if they desire.

Explaining the mission of pregnancy care centers, Ms. Meyer said the centers are not manipulative. “They do not give bad information. They are a place where the Good Samaritan is lived out,” she said.

Nicolle Jackson, a wife and mother of six children, told the gathering that she has been involved as a volunteer counselor at the pregnancy care center in Rocky Mount for nine years. She says it’s a place that offers hope and opportunity for men and women, adding that 12,400 people have benefited from its services in the last 20 years.

One young woman, who benefitted from the Pregnancy Care Center in Greenville, shared with the crowd her story of an unplanned pregnancy while a junior at East Carolina University. Ms. Wagner Fields said she was alone and didn’t even share the news with the father of the child. She said she went to the infirmary, where a pregnancy test proved positive. She said the nurse suggested an abortion. “I was petrified,” Ms. Fields said, adding, “Then a friend suggested I go to the Carolina Pregnancy Center.”  She said she was not made to feel shame by the person who met with her. “I had an ultrasound and realized there was hope. The woman told me, 'you can do this.' For the first time in this ordeal, I felt accepted and loved.”

Ms. Fields said she took the ultrasound pictures home with her. “Today, Tanner is eight years old and a day doesn’t go by when he doesn’t teach me something new.”

Today, Wagner Fields serves on the board of the Carolina Pregnancy Care Center in Greenville. The Greenville Center has received a Diocesan Pro-Life grant six of the last eight years. Pro-Life grants are funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Msgr. Michael Clay and Bishop Peter J. Jugis attending “Choose Life” License Plate Rally at State Legislative Building in Raleigh.

Above: Ms. Wagner Fields discussing her unplanned pregnancy in 2002, and the important role the Greenville Pregnancy Care Center played in her decision to choose life for her son, who is now eight years old.

Above: Part of the 200 who took part in the “Choose Life’ License Plate Rally in Raleigh