Anti-abortion group sues bus service for rejected ad

By The Associated Press

LAFAYETTE — An anti-abortion group is accusing a northwestern Indiana city’s public bus service of violating its free speech rights by rejecting the group’s proposed bus advertisement depicting a growing fetus.

The Tippecanoe County chapter of Right to Life filed a lawsuit Monday against CityBus after the transportation company rejected the organization’s proposed ad, the Journal & Courier reported.

The proposal was a three-photo ad depicting an ultrasound and growing fetus with the words “me,” ‘‘me, again” and “still me” across each segment. The group approached CityBus because the Lafayette service says 70 percent of riders are Purdue University students, which is the nonprofit’s target demographic.

About 60 percent of women who choose to get an abortion are in their 20s, according to data collected by the Guttmacher Institute. Nearly half the women who have abortions are below the federal poverty level, according to the data. Tippecanoe County residents in low-income homes are another population CityBus often serves.

The service rejected the ad on the side of the bus because it violates CityBus’ policy against “political viewpoints,” said the lawsuit, which admits Right to Life is trying to shape the opinions of college students in particular. CityBus prohibits ballot items or political viewpoints, but does allow political candidate ads such as mayoral campaigns in Lafayette.

The nonprofit argued that denying the ad “is both facially and as-applied unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.”

CityBus has not received the lawsuit yet and declined to comment on pending litigation.

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