Anti-Abortion Group’s Innocuous Ad Prevails

     CHICAGO (CN) — The Seventh Circuit cleared the way Wednesday for an anti-abortion group to advertise free women’s health services with no mention of the procedure it proudly opposes.
     “You are not alone,” the ad in question by Women’s Health Link says. “Free resource for women seeking health care.”
     Beside this text appears the nonprofit’s website address and phone number.
     Women’s Health Link wanted to run the ad on buses in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but faced opposition from local transit officials.
     The Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corp., better known as Citilink, rejected the ad on the basis of its ban against ads that express opinions about “political, religious, or moral issues.”
     Health Link is opposed to abortion, but nothing in the ad expresses any opinion about the procedure.
     The nonprofit also provides many uncontroversial health services, and its abortion stance is not immediately obvious upon visiting its website.
     It sued the bus service over the ad rejection, claiming that the ad is a public service announcement that does not hint at any moral or religious position.
     Though a federal judge ruled for Citilink, the Seventh Circuit reversed Wednesday.
     “We know that Health Link is pro-life, but nothing in the ad reveals that,” Judge Richard Posner said, writing for the three-judge panel.
     Though Health Link’s position on abortion can be discovered on its website, which is listed in the ad, Citilink’s restrictions on advertisements apply only to the ad content itself, the panel ruled.
     “Nothing in Citilink’s statement of policy suggests a concern with what may lie behind an innocuous ad – which might be a website containing forbidden matter or an organization that violated one or more of the restrictions in Citilink’s advertising policy. Nothing in Health Link’s proposed ad violates any of the restrictions,” the judge continued. (Emphasis in original.)

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