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Nicola Sturgeon says SNP MSP’s comments on abortion clinics were ‘wrong’

John Mason’s comments at the weekend drew criticism (Danny Lawson/PA)
John Mason’s comments at the weekend drew criticism (Danny Lawson/PA)

Comments made by SNP MSP John Mason about clinics “pushing abortion” have been described as “wrong” by his party leader Nicola Sturgeon.

At the weekend, the Glasgow Shettleston MSP was criticised for saying clinics “push abortion without laying out the pros and cons”.

In an email to campaign group Back Off Scotland, which seeks to implement buffer zones around abortion providers to push anti-abortion vigils further away from patients, Mr Mason said he had attended one of the events to speak to the people there.

He went on to say he believed abortion was “seldom essential or vital”.

Nicola Sturgeon opens NHS 24’s new centre
The First Minister visited a new NHS 24 centre in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Tweeting about the subject at the weekend, he said clinics did not always ask women how they feel.

The First Minister was asked about his comments on Monday, as she spoke to journalists while visiting a new NHS 24 building in Glasgow.

She said: “I disagree with John Mason on the issue of abortion.

“I am a very passionate believer in a woman’s right to choose and I think attempts to take that right away, whether it’s in the United States or any attempts to undermine that right here, are wrong and I disagree with that.

“I also believe women exercising the right to abortion should be able to do so free of intimidation.”

Those who wish to protest abortion should do so outside parliament rather than hospitals, she said.

Ms Sturgeon was asked about Mr Mason’s statement that some clinics were “pushing abortion without laying out the pros and cons”.

She said: “I think that is wrong. I don’t think that’s the case.

“I don’t think any woman takes a decision to have an abortion lightly.

“And secondly, medical professionals take their duties very seriously and make sure that they do what is required to bring about a decision that is a fully informed one.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also voiced his disagreement with Mr Mason’s “grotesque” comments, adding that the Shettleston MSP should “just keep quiet”.

“This has an emotional impact on people across the country,” he said.

Mr Sarwar said both cross-party support and public support shows it is time for buffer zones to be implemented around sites where abortions are carried out in Scotland.

“This is a horrific situation that many women find themselves in, and I think we have a duty to support them. Individuals having these kind of protests on the doorsteps of our hospital buildings are just not good enough.

“If people want to protest, they can feel free to protest at parliament. That’s where political decisions are made. Let’s not cause harm to individual women.”