City Refused to Accept This Ad From a Pro-Life Pregnancy Center, So it Sued

State   Steven Ertelt   Jul 11, 2014   |   1:12PM    Fort Wayne, IN

The City of Fort Wayne, Indiana refused to accept an ad from a pro-life pregnancy center that provide pregnant women with help, support, and abortion alternatives, so the center is now suing the city.

The city of Fort Wayne’s public transportation company refused to accept an ad from a pro-life health care referral service for women in need. Citilink denied Women’s Health Link’s request simply because its website contains information on “controversial issues,” the city-run company says.

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs is heading up the lawsuit Monday in federal court, which will hold a hearing in the case.

fortwayne2In April, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Citilink for denying the ad because the city-run bus company said the referral service’s website contains information on “controversial issues.” At the hearing, Scruggs will present arguments in favor of a motion to stop Citilink from denying the ad while the case moves forward in court and against the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

“No one should be censored simply for having a point of view that city officials don’t agree with,” said Scruggs. “When the government creates an opportunity for community advertising, it can’t decide that an organization like Women’s Health Link is the exception. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all people, regardless of their political or religious beliefs.”

Women’s Health Link is a free referral resource for women seeking physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental health care. In November of last year, Women’s Health Link asked to place advertising cards in the interior of Citilink’s buses that contained a picture of a young woman and the tagline “You’re Not Alone” along with the center’s contact information.

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Citilink denied the request saying that Women’s Health Link is associated with Allen County Right to Life, a pro-life organization, and that the Women’s Health Link website discusses “controversial issues.” Citilink has permitted many non-profit and government organizations to place public service announcements with various messages in the interior of their buses, including the state of Indiana, Parkview Health, and the United Way.

The complaint filed in Women’s Health Link v. Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corp. with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, explains that Citilink’s advertising policies give “officials unbridled discretion to accept or reject private expression protected by the First Amendment.” The policies violate Women’s Health Link’s “fundamental rights, including its right to freedom of speech and freedom of association,” the complaint states.