I'm pro-life.

I make no apologies. I believe that human life begins at the moment of conception. It's not my purpose to change anybody's mind. It's my conviction.

I will always vote for the pro-life candidate over the pro-choice candidate even if that's the only issue upon which we agree. But I'm not applying for a "Choose Life" license plate.

It's a beautiful plate, don't get me wrong. It depicts a mother cradling her infant child with the words "Choose Life" along the bottom. The Registry of Motor Vehicles is making 5,000 of these plate available and we should begin seeing them on cars by the end of this month. Some 1,700 plates have already been sold. At least 12 Dracut residents have ordered them. Nineteen in Lowell. Thirty-two in Andover and another dozen in North Andover, of all places.

But I'm not getting one. I'm not ashamed of my pro-life stance and it's not that I'm balking at the $40 fee for a Massachusetts specialty plate. I'm just worried about the fallout. I can foresee the cases of road rage that such a license plate can evoke. Imagine driving down Route 128 at 70 mph and some pro-choice nut driving behind you spots your Choose Life license plate. There are certain communities from which I would steer clear if I had a Choose Life license plate on my car. Bad enough that I have a Christian fish on my car.

I'd probably stay out of towns like Provincetown, which recently approved the distribution of condoms to students, regardless of their age.


I'd stay out of Brookline, a bastion for liberal forelock-tuggers and I'd probably drive all the way around Newton and Wellesley.

A portion of the $40 will go to pregnancy crisis centers, according to the president of Choose Life Inc., Merry Nordeen.

Does that mean that if the other side comes up with a Pro-Choice license plate, a portion of their proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood or some other such organization? I don't think I would like that.

Massachusetts offers a number of specialty license plates from the Firefighters Memorial plate to the Fish and Wildlife plate. Save the right whales is one thing, and I like the special Boston Red Sox plate, but I shudder to think about some of the other groups who might be emboldened to get a Massachusetts specialty plate now that the Choose Life plate is available. What about the North American Man Boy Love Association, NAMBLA? Or the PETA folks? What would the reaction be to a group of Palestinians who wanted to overthrow Israel?

Would I want to be a passenger in a car that had a NAMBLA specialty plate?

Some say the RMV is crossing a line in allowing the plates to be issued. They're promoting religious values, some say. But you can be pro-life without being religious. I know many religious people who are pro-choice, which I like to refer to as anti pro-life.

To say that the Choose Life specialty plates has enflamed the abortion rights issue is an understatement. How long until the American Civil Liberties Union gets involved? Nothing about this plate is going to reverse Roe vs. Wade. Nothing about this plate is going to change anyone's mind on the subject.

As I stated, I'm a bit worried that issuing such a plate opens the door to all kinds of freaks and fringe groups who may want a plate of their own. But freedom of expression is a great thing. It's something we enjoy in this country and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Dennis Shaughnessey's e-mail is dshaughnessey@lowellsun.com.