Petition targets display of graphic abortion images in Charlottetown

Ryan Ross
Published on August 14, 2014

Amanda Livingston is outraged a member of the anti-abortion group Show the Truth handed her young daughter a graphic image that depicts a fetus aborted at 10 weeks.

©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

He didn’t like them, but Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says there’s nothing the city can do to stop the display of graphic images from anti-abortion protesters.

That’s despite a recent online petition calling for the city to enact a bylaw that would prohibit the distribution and display of graphic images of dead fetuses.

Lee said he understands people’s concerns about the images, but the city’s lawyers have told him a bylaw would violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Quite honestly, no government in the country can pass legislation that is contrary to that act,” he said.

Last week, the anti-abortion group Show the Truth was in P.E.I. protesting a conference at UPEI called Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution.

Show the Truth supporters passed out pamphlets showing images of supposedly aborted fetuses and held large signs with similar images along some Charlottetown streets.

In response to the images, a group called Concerned Citizens of P.E.I. started an online petition on asking for the bylaw.

“This campaign deliberately targeted and traumatized children and has caused spiritual, emotional and psychological harm to Charlottetown’s residents and visitors alike,” the petition said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had 645 supporters.

But Lee said as long as the protests are peaceful and not pornographic the city can’t restrict them.

If the city did enact a bylaw, it wouldn’t be successful in defending it if there was a court challenge, Lee said.

“There’s not much sense in going out and spending money on something that we know is not going to accomplish anything at the end of the day.”

Lee also said he saw some of the images, which he described as inappropriate.

“It was almost, in my view, extreme, over the limit and I’m not sure the organization known as Show the Truth ... if they would gain any support any place with this type of display.”