Idaho has joined numerous other U.S. states with the message of “Choose Life” on license plates.
“These are tiny billboards for life,” said Choose Life Idaho President Cindy Lange. “They are mobile billboards in communities, and if we can get more of these little billboards on the road, just imagine the effect that would have on people.”
State law in Idaho requires non-profit organizations to sell 1,000 license plates the first year to keep the program going, Lange said. In August 2021, that goal appeared almost unreachable.
“We only had 490 on the road with four short months to go; we weren’t even halfway there,” Lange recalled. “I was looking for a miracle. We received grant funding to help us do some advertising, and our monthly sales doubled! We reached our goal in November of more than 1,000 plates sold.”
The total number sold by year-end came to more than 1,200.
“It was a miracle!” said Lange.
Answering the call
The idea to have a pro-life license plate option for her state came from the national Choose Life America organization, Lange said. She follows many pro-life groups, and she received an email from the leader of a national organization encouraging people in various states without a pro-life message plate to consider taking the helm; Idaho was one of those states. Lange admits she hesitated to lead the charge.
“I got an email from the president of Choose Life America,” she explained. “It was kind of a desperate plea. Nobody was working on it in Idaho. I thought to myself, ‘Oh I don't want to do this. I know what it’s going to entail and how hard it's going to be.’ I work full time. I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can help.’ So, I sent him an email back.”
And help she did.
“Somebody just needed to get the ball rolling,” Lange said. “I think sometimes there are signs that God gives, little signs that tug at your heart. So, I started Choose Life Idaho and incorporated. We now have 501©3 status with the IRS, so we can take tax deductible donations.”
Tweet This: “Somebody just needed to get the ball rolling” - Choose Life Idaho President Cindy Lange on the Idaho Choose Life license plate initiative
She added, “It only took a year and a half until the license plate passed through the legislature. We were told it became a plate in Idaho faster than any other state.”
The license plate’s design features a father gazing at a baby, a heart, and a heartbeat rhythm. That was chosen on purpose, Lange said.
“A lot of women choose abortion because they don't have that support from their male partner, whether it's a husband a boyfriend,” she said. That male support is extremely necessary for women to feel that they can choose life.”
“I also love the design because of the heart,” continued Lange. “We want them to know that we love them. It’s a message of hope and a message of love. No matter who you are, God loves you, and we love you, and we love little unborn babies.”
In addition to passing the license plate legislation, Choose Life Idaho has a Facebook page and a website. The site features a resources page, which lists the names and locations of pregnancy centers in Idaho and promotes Abortion Pill Reversal. Also on the website, Lange lists the state’s March for Life, which will take place in Boise on Saturday, January 22, starting at 1 p.m.
Dollars for centers
Choose Life Idaho receives $22 for each new plate sold and $12 for each renewal. Lange and her team of volunteers distribute the money to Idaho’s pregnancy resource centers; each of the 14 centers have already received $900 and slightly more than that will soon go to them.
“We want to become a funding source for these centers,” Lange said. “We're getting ready to send some more funds real soon. We have an application for funding, and it's really easy to get funds. We don't make the grant application hard. Our only restriction is that the money does not go to referring people for abortions.”
The organization donates to the pregnancy centers twice a year, she added.
The work is not over.
According to state law, 500 additional plates need to sell during the second year of the program to continue offering the license plates and then another 500 the year after for a total of 2,000 license plates sold.
“So, we have until 2023 to get 2,000 plates issued,” Lange said. “We still have another 800 to go.”
“I should be able to get there next year,” she said. “I'm hopeful. We just need to keep working hard and get the news out, so people know the plates are out there.”
“Right now, we're just trying to get these little billboards on as many cars as we can and raise as much money as we can for these pregnancy help centers,” said Lange.
The advertising done in late summer and early fall on a Boise radio station helped, and she would like to do more advertising in the future. Thus, fundraising ideas are sprouting. It’s also helpful when the Department of Motor Vehicle offices display the plates, which Lange thinks is not being done at every office.
“I heard reports that only about 50 percent of DMVs are actually displaying our license plate,” Lange said. “It's the Idaho Transportation Department that issued a memo and said they were available, but they didn't say that they were required to display it. That hurts sales.”
She heard something else unfortunate that likely attributed to a lack of sales early on.
“There were reports of people who worked at the DMV telling people that the plate wasn't available and is expensive, encouraging them not to get one,” Lange said. “We had a lot of pushback, which was unfortunate.”
Receiving funds to advertise, via radio and on Facebook, apparently increased sales.
“When we had advertising on the radio, we went from an average of 50 in sales a month to about 120, and I think in November we had about 150,” Lange said.
Continuing to spread the word about the plates is a priority for the new year, in particular reaching additional communities and adding volunteers to help.
“We’re committed to giving the money from the plates to pregnancy resource centers,” Lange said. “So, if we get any money from donations, it all goes to marketing and advertising.”
She would like to reach into Sandpoint up north and Idaho Falls as well, as there are many pro-life people in those areas and volunteers are needed to help get the word out to these different communities that the plates are available.
“You know if we can just save one life with a little license plate, that makes it all worth it,” said Lange. “The more of these we can get on the road, the more lives we might save. That's our main mission.”