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ACLU Lawsuit Contests Metro’s Rejection of Ads by carafem, PETA, and Milo Yiannopoulos
carafem is proud to join The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its affiliates in the District of Columbia and Virginia in challenging the advertising restrictions of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This free speech lawsuit follows the rejection of ads of four diverse groups across the political spectrum. Since fully adopting its current ad policies in 2015, WMATA has refused to allow carafem, a women’s healthcare collective providing reproductive services, to advertise abortion services.
When carafem first opened doors in the Washington, DC metro area in April of 2015, and again in December of 2015, carafem sought to announce their services with eye-catching, hot pink ads stating “Abortion, Yeah We Do That.”. The ads were designed to provide public information about reproductive health care and abortion care, similar to the way other medical offices advertise their services.
In December of 2016, WMATA rejected a new message from carafem, focused on the availability of medication abortion, citing their new restrictions on publishing health-related and political messages in denying the ads.
“The abortion pill is, of course, both FDA-approved and accepted by the American Medical Association. We are a healthcare provider, not an advocacy group. Metro’s ban of our ads claimed that they were ‘issue-oriented’ and ‘provided a medical statement which can only be accepted from a government health association.’ This is obviously inaccurate – we’re publicizing our services like any other health care provider,” says Melissa Grant, Chief Operations Officer at carafem.
The lawsuit contends that sections of the agency’s ad policies violate the First Amendment. Metro previously rejected a series of ACLU ads displaying the text of the First Amendment as well as numerous PETA ads reading “I’m ME. Not Meat. Go Vegan.”. The ads for far-right political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos’ new book, “Dangerous,” were initially accepted by WMATA, but later removed from the transit system after riders complained.
“The diversity of the plaintiffs in this case further underscores our concern for protecting freedom of speech for everyone. In joining together to expose the censorship of the D.C. Metro, we are supporting the right for all Americans to share in open dialog, as promised by the Constitution, “ adds Grant.
Brad Ginsburg, 646-964-4446
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