A city bus driver in Canada was sent home from work last week after she refused to drive a bus with a pro-life advertisement on it.
The pro-life ads sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform have been a contentious issue in the city of Peterborough for months. The pro-life group filed a lawsuit against the city after it rejected the ads in February, and the two groups recently reached a settlement, Peterborough This Week reports.
On Tuesday, April 4, the ads were posted on the backs of several city buses. They say “Abortion kills children: End the killing” and show images of unborn babies at 7 weeks and 16 weeks.
A female bus driver who works for the city transit system refused to drive a bus that has the ad on April 4; she was sent home without pay, and since has returned to work, according to the report.
The unnamed woman also filed a grievance against the city, claiming the pro-life ad offended her and “poisoned her workplace,” the report states.
Here’s more from the report:
Tyler Burns, president of the local branch of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the driver was worried about comments from passengers and didn’t want to be responsible for any incidents that may have occurred.
He said the situation “violated her rights to have a workplace free of violence or harassment based on creed or gender,” and added the driver “was pretty distraught.”
The ads will run on the city buses for three months.
Abortion activists in Peterborough protested the ads, and The Examiner reports a group complained to the city council on April 3, calling the pro-life message “hateful” and criticizing city officials for not censoring the ads.
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Here’s more from the report:
At the meeting on Monday, councillors were voting a final time on a plan to make changes to the city’s advertising policy to try to block similar ads in the future.
But five women spoke to council prior to the vote, all of them saying city council should have prevented the ads from being used on the buses in the first place. …
Erin Dyson said the CCBR uses “horror” imagery to disturb people.
Dyson wondered what would happen if another group with a hateful message wanted to buy an ad.
“I would hope the city would not be so flippant if a white supremacist group tried to run an ad on a bus.”
A similar legal battle between the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and the city of Grande Prairie is on-going. Last year, the Alberta city rejected the pro-life ads on its transit buses, and the pro-life group filed a lawsuit. A judge dismissed the pro-life group’s case in December, but lawyers for the pro-life group said they plan to appeal.
In the United States, a pro-life pregnancy center in Indiana faced a similar court battle when the Fort Wayne city bus system tried to censor its ads in 2013. The courts eventually sided with the Women’s Health Link in June 2016, ruling that it was unconstitutional for the city bus system to reject the ads.
The Indiana organization’s 11-by-17-inch ads showed 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.