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Right to Life appeals city denial of abortion pill 'reversal' ads

City refused the ads over concerns about accuracy, the provision of allegedly unsupported medical advice
City officials denied these two proposed ads last year from Guelph and Area Right to Life. An appeal will be heard on April 12.

Pointing to potentially defamatory falsehoods and more, city officials denied a pair of Guelph and Area Right to Life bus advertisements last year, prompting an appeal set to be heard later this month.

The ads in question promote an abortion pill “reversal” process.

“Over 4,000 mothers, including Canadian mothers have their child in their arms because of the abortion-pill reversal method, despite efforts to prevent women knowing that this method is safe, effective, and available,” states Jakki Jeffs, Guelph and Area Right to Life president, in an email to the city included in the upcoming advertising review panel meeting agenda. “We believe that informed consent is a priority and that women have a right to the knowledge that this method is available.” 

In one proposed ad, city officials challenge the use of “Legal ≠ Safe” in reference to Health Canada-approved medical abortion pills, documents in the agenda package show. Inclusion of the graphic "impugns both the manufacturer and the approval authority."

The other denied ad includes a website address that “provides information that could be construed as medical advice, and the subject matter of which both the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued statements asserting that abortion pill ‘reversal’ is not supported by science.” 

In response, Jeffs claims the group has received an “informal legal opinion” that the use of “Legal ≠ Safe” isn’t defamatory because it isn’t directed at an identified individual or entity, and that some licensed obstetricians and gynecologists, as well as physicians, support the claimed reversal process.

The city’s advertising review panel, which consists of five senior city staff members, is slated to hear the appeal on April 14, beginning at 2 p.m. It will consider the advertising request in light of the city’s advertising acceptability policy

After hearing from the complainant, the panel is slated to discuss the matter behind closed doors and return to open session with a determination.

According to the city’s website, panel decisions are “final and binding.”

However, in 2022, Guelph and Area Right to Life took the decision of city officials to pull three of its advertisements from buses to court and won. Dubbed “unreasonable” by the court, city officials were urged to reevaluate its assessment of advertising, its dependence on a third party organization for a determination of appropriateness, and lack of full consideration under Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The city’s advertising policy was updated this past December to “align” with that court decision, though the update came after denial of the ads currently under appeal.

The review panel meeting will be held at city hall and streamed live at


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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