By Bill Heaney
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said an SNP MSP was wrong to claim clinics “push abortion without laying out the pros and cons”.
In doing so, she has probably seriously undermined the prospect of people voting for her in the Dumbarton constituency where at least one SNP councillor – re-elected with probably the highest number of votes – is widely perceived as being pro-life and anti-abortion.
MSP John Mason has come under fire for his defence of anti-abortion “vigils” outside Glasgow hospitals.
At some vigils, activists have been seen holding signs saying “women do regret abortion”, among other slogans.
Ms Sturgeon said she was “a passionate believer in a woman’s right to choose”.
The first minister told BBC Scotland: “I disagree with John Mason on abortion.
“I believe women should have the ability to exercise the right to choose, which is never done lightly by any woman, without fear or intimidation.
“People have a right to protest in a democracy, and that includes the right to protest against abortion.
“They should do that outside a parliament where the laws are made, not outside a hospital.”
Meanwhile, Scotland has been urged to follow the example of England and Wales by continuing to offer at-home abortions.
The model, which enables woman to take medication in their own homes following a phone consultation, began as a temporary measure during the pandemic.
The Scottish government said it would not take a final decision on making the scheme permanent until the autumn.
But the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the treatment was safe and called on ministers to act now.
Dr Patricia Lohr, BPAS medical director, said research found “overwhelming support” for the telemedical model.
She told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “They talked about it as being convenient, it enhanced their privacy, it meant that they were more in control about the timing and place of the abortion and, of course, it was more comfortable for them to have their abortion in the home environment.”
However the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) condemned the policy and said it amounted to “state-sponsored backstreet abortion”.