Court Says 'Truth Truck' Is Free Speech

By: Cayle Thompson Email
By: Cayle Thompson Email

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Of all the cars and trucks in Wichita, one is hard to miss.

The "Truth Truck," as it's called, is part of Operation Rescue's attempts to show the public the physical effects of an abortion on an unborn child. The truck is covered with pictures of aborted fetuses.

"Any real social movement in the last 100 years has used graphic imagery to present its message," says Troy Newman, director of Operation Rescue.

This week, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a man in California, stopped and detained for driving a similar truck near a school.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled the truck was a form of free speech, and said the driver's constitutional rights were violated when he was stopped and told to leave. According to the judges, "the government cannot silence messages simply because they cause discomfort, fear or even anger."

By not hearing the case, the Supreme Court allows the lower court's ruling to stand.

Kris Wilshusen is on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood. She disagrees with the "Truth Truck," and says using graphic photos to play on emotions does little to solve the abortion debate.

"I don't think that form of free speech does anything to solve the issue," Wilshusen says. "I think we would be much better off working on solutions, rather than emotions."

Troy Newman says the truck is meant to stir emotions for a reason.

"We've had numerous examples of women who have seen a picture of an aborted baby, and say 'I don't want that to happen to my child,'" he says.

Although many, like Wilshusen, find the images offensive and unnecessary, Wilshusen says she understands why the court upheld the pictures under the First Amendment.

"If they could ban that, then they could ban my free speech," Wilshusen says. "It's very much like saying if they can ban somebody else's abortion, they can ban my abortion."

According to Newman, there are more than 20 "Truth Trucks" in the nation, part of either Operation Rescue or another pro-life advocacy group.

Newman says "Truth Truck" drivers have been arrested before, and the truck itself has been towed, impounded and vandalized. He says the backlash is expected wherever they go, and anticipates others will try to challenge the constitutionality of the truck's images in the future.


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