More than 500 people have signed an online petition calling on the City of Charlottetown to pass a bylaw to prohibit the public display and mass distribution of graphic images of alleged dead fetuses.

Clifford Lee - custom

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says he found the images distributed in the ant-abortion protest 'repulsive and disrespectful.' (CBC)

The petition is in response to protests last week by the group Show the Truth. It distributed flyers and held up signs around the city last week showing images of what they said were aborted fetuses. Show the Truth was in town to protest a pro-choice conference being held at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee told CBC News he found last week's anti-abortion demonstrations in the city "repulsive and disrespectful to the community," but the city has consulted with its lawyer and has been told a bylaw attempting to ban distribution of graphic images would not hold up against a charter challenge.

"Unfortunately the city is not in a position to enact a bylaw," said Lee.

"[It] would simply cost a whole lot of money to create the bylaw, and a whole lot of money to defend the bylaw in a charter case, and our lawyer's already told us we would not be successful."

The online petition was started by a group calling itself Concerned Citizens of PEI. No one with the group was available for comment.

Hamilton, Ont. has asked the federal and Ontario governments to change advertising laws to prevent disturbing images from being used in materials which can be seen by children and other vulnerable persons. That's following a series of similar demonstrations earlier this year.

For mobile device users: Should Charlottetown ban the distribution of disturbing images?