The head of a crisis pregnancy center in Rhode Island says her group – a government-approved non-profit – is as qualified as any other to receive public funds. But evidently Governor Lincoln Chafee has a problem with that rationale.
It's unlikely the Rhode Island legislature will override their governor's veto of a “Choose Life” license plate. Part of the revenue from the specialty plate would have gone to a pro-life pregnancy center. Twenty-nine states already offer similar license plates, but Rhode Island will not be joining them soon – unless the state’s legislators step in.
Announcing his decision on Tuesday, Governor Chafee said it is inappropriate to use state license plates to raise money for a religious organization.
Rachel Nguyen heads the Providence-based CareNet Pregnancy Center of RI, which would have received half of the $40 cost of the plates.
“We're a 501(c)(3) organization that has been affirmed by the federal government as a non-profit,” she explains, “so as far as we're concerned we are just as valid an organization to receive funds as anyone. It's really discrimination against an organization, I believe. I think that that's the case.”
As she points out, the funding comes not from the government but from the extra fee a person pays for the specialty plate. And while CareNet is Christian-based, Nguyen says services are not limited to Christians.
“Our organization supports any person who is in a situation of need. So if it's a woman or a man – wherever they are in their pregnancy and with absolutely no regard for their faith – we don't discriminate for our clients,” she shares. “They are welcome to come here and receive services free of charge, and that's for any person who walks in the door that needs our help.”
A veto override would take a three-fifths’ vote of the General Assembly, but since House Speaker Gordon Fox is against the bill, an attempt is unlikely.