The National Abortion Federation has sued Atlanta’s MARTA transit agency for violating the group’s First Amendment rights by refusing to post two pro-choice advertisements.
Both ads were intended or display in bus and train stations throughout the month of April and included the number of a NAF-sponsored hotline. The first ad indicated that many women have had an abortion at some point in their lives, and that the reader’s friends or relatives are included in that category. The second ad said that doctors risk their lives to provide abortions.
MARTA’s policy has been to refuse all ads arguing either for or against abortion rights. MARTA’s lawyers argue that the agency’s buses and terminals cannot be held to First Amendment standards, given that they represent a”private forum,” and not a public space. In 1988, U.S. Supreme Court Judge Byron White concurred with MARTA’s lawyers, agreeing that the sides of MARTA buses were not a public forum, and that the agency is entitled to screen potential advertisements.