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Published On: Wed, Jan 6th, 2016

ADF counters court ruling on rejected ‘pro-life ad’, it’s free speech

A federal judge has ruled that an Indiana city bus system can reject a pro-life ad from a women’s health group.

Tuesday’s decision in Women’s Health Link v. Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corp. upholds the bus system’s rights, who twice rejected the ads because of its affiliation with Allen County Right to Life, and because the organization’s website discussed what it classified as “controversial issues,” presumably abortion.

“We feel that this ad does not educate the general public or raise awareness regarding a significant social issue in a viewpoint neutral manner,” Citilink’s response to Women’s Health Link stated. “We do not choose to post this ad as a PSA.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs responded to the federal court’s decision:

bus ad indiana women's health group pro-life ad rejected“The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all people, regardless of their political or religious beliefs. City officials can’t run nearly identical ads from other non-profit groups, such as the United Way, and then single out Women’s Health Link for censorship. Government has a responsibility to ensure that all organizations benefit from community advertising. For that reason, we will consult with our client regarding appeal.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Miller Jr., nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, granted summary judgment to Citilink, finding no wrongdoing on the part of the public transportation system.

“The policy unequivocally prohibits advertising that: (1) implies or declares an endorsement by Citilink of any service or point of view; (2) is non-commercial; and/or (3) expresses or advocates opinions or positions on political, religious, or moral issues,” he wrote. “It’s evident on the face of the advertising policy that Citilink intended to
exclude all speech on political, religious, or moral issues, and the record presents no indication that it implemented or enforced that policy in a ‘viewpoint discriminatory manner…’”

Miller said that because Women’s Health Link takes a position on abortion as a group, even though abortion was not mentioned in the placards, the organization’s request to place the cards on buses was therefore rejected.

“The undisputed evidence shows that [Citilink’s representative] rejected Women’s Health Link’s first submission because its advertisement was noncommercial, and rejected its second (the public service ad) because she read the ‘life affirming’ reference on the website as advocating a position or opinion on abortion–a political, religious and moral issue that the advertising policy expressly precluded,” he declared.

Miller stated that the rejection was also fair as no evidence was presented that Citilink had ever allowed advertising from pro-abortion groups either.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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