Pregnancy Center Fights Back After City Censors Ad for Helping Women Find Abortion Alternatives

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2016   |   7:30PM   |   Fort Wayne, IN

A pro-life pregnancy center whose ads were rejected by the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana continued its fight Tuesday against the city’s discriminatory practices.

Attorneys representing Women’s Health Link filed an appeal Tuesday to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court sided with the city in January, the Journal Gazette reports.

Women’s Health Link provides pregnant women with help, support and abortion alternatives. The 11-by-17-inch ad that it submitted to the city has a smiling woman’s face and the words “You are not alone” and “Free resources for women seeking health care” with the organization’s website and telephone number, according to court documents.

The case began in 2013 when Women’s Health Link asked to place advertising cards in the interior of the city public transportation company Citilink’s buses, LifeNews previously reported. Citilink denied the request twice, 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.”

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Women’s Health Link, filed a lawsuit against the city in April 2014, arguing that the city is discriminating against the pregnancy center’s viewpoint. ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot commented on the new appeal.

“City officials can’t run ads from non-profit groups, such as the United Way, and then single out Women’s Health Link’s nearly identical ad for censorship,” Theriot told LifeNews. “The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all people, regardless of their political or religious views. Because government has a responsibility to ensure equal access to community advertising, we have filed this appeal and hope the 7th Circuit will reverse district court’s decision.”

Citilink reportedly 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 new appeal comes after U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. sided with the city in a January ruling. Miller ruled that the Citilink advertising policy “unequivocally prohibits advertising” that declares or implies an endorsement or a point of view, is noncommercial and advocates a position on political, religious or moral issues, according to the local news report.

ADF attorneys argue in the complaint that the city’s policies violate Women’s Health Link’s “fundamental rights, including its right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.”