Govt-run bus company reverses course, allows ad showing humanity of unborn children
LAFAYETTE, Ind. – After months of litigation, a pro-life organization’s advertisement can now appear on buses operated by a government-run public transportation company. After previously rejecting the ad educating the public about the humanity of unborn children, CityBus has now agreed to allow Tippecanoe County Right to Life to run its ad. CityBus also amended its advertising policy to remove the provisions that it previously used to reject the ad and, as part of a legal settlement, agreed to pay certain attorneys’ fees and damages.
“It’s a scientific fact that unborn babies are just as human as the newborn babies we cherish, and Tippecanoe County Right to Life’s ad shares that truth in a compelling way,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Samuel Green. “We are thankful that CityBus is now allowing this educational message to reach people as they study, shop, and commute. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all people, regardless of their beliefs or their viewpoint.”
Tippecanoe County Right to Life is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the right to life and educating the public about the scientific truth about the humanity of unborn children. In September 2017, the group contacted CityBus to begin a conversation about advertising on buses, believing that they could educate numerous people—including some who may face unplanned pregnancies and consider abortion—in this way. Tippecanoe County Right to Life submitted an ad design that includes its name, its website, two ultrasound images of an unborn child, and a third picture depicting a newborn wrapped in a blanket. The words “ME,” “ME, AGAIN,” and “STILL ME” are superimposed over the pictures.
CityBus denied the ad, arguing that the proposed design did not comply with its guidelines which prohibited, among other things, certain ads expressing a “political viewpoint.” However, CityBus had permitted ads declaring a “healthcare crisis in Indiana,” encouraging people to “pump some democracy,” and advocating for vaccinating children against a sexually transmitted disease. After attorneys with ADF filed Tippecanoe County Right to Life v. Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, CityBus agreed to a contract for Tippecanoe County Right to Life to run its advertisement for up to 16 months and amended its advertising policy.
In June 2016, ADF won a similar case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. In Women’s Health Link v. Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corporation, the 7th Circuit ruled that the bus system of Fort Wayne, Indiana, had unconstitutionally refused to accept an ad from Women’s Health Link, a life-affirming health care referral service for women in need.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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