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Citilink wrong to reject women’s health ad

Are you offended by this ad?

Notice, the question is not whether you endorse the organization that wants to run this ad on Citilink buses.

Women’s Health Link is a “life-affirming” health referral organization with connections to Allen County Right to Life.

Some people might think Women’s Health Link is a wonderful organization; those who are pro-choice might disagree with its approach.

But in America, the fact that you agree or disagree with people, organizations or points of view does not mean that you have the right to silence them.

Yet that is what our public bus system chose to do when Women’s Health Link asked to have this ad placed on public buses.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That does not mean that a bus operator, a publication or a broadcaster must accept ads that contain blatantly offensive material.

But as you can see, there’s nothing about this ad that could reasonably be construed as offensive.

To have displayed ads on health care, as Citilink has, and to reject a non-offensive health-care-related ad because the organization that wants to place it may espouse views that are controversial is to practice, in the words of Women’s Health Link’s attorneys, “textbook viewpoint discrimination.”

Women’s Health Link’s lawsuit challenging Citilink’s decision was filed last month. This week, the referral group added a request for a preliminary injunction that would allow the ad to run until a final court decision.

Citilink has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

But no one has to actually comment to resolve this. Citilink should not spend another moment or another penny defending a constitutionally untenable position.

Accept the ad.