A Scottish National MSP has been reprimanded for defending anti-abortion protests outside health clinics.
In a written warning from party whips at Holyrood, John Mason, the MSP for Shettleston, Glasgow, was accused of causing “great distress and trauma to many women”.
Mason has previously defended the protests that have gained momentum across Scotland, describing them as “noble” and “vigilant” and suggesting that “some clinics seem to be pushing abortions without mentioning the pros and cons”.
In a letter leaked to the Daily Record, SNP MPs Stuart McMillan and Gordon MacDonald wrote: “We would like to make it clear that we fully respect your right to have your views on abortion and your right to freedom of speech and expression. . However, we do not believe that you have the right to impose these views on others.
“Voicing your views has caused great distress and trauma to many women and has also been viewed as misinformation by medical professionals. As you know, the First Minister is committed to exploring all possible options to ensure safe access zones for women and girls accessing health care.”
The letter was sent days after Nicola Sturgeon hosted a roundtable to explore the introduction of neutral zones to prevent protests taking place immediately outside clinics and hospitals amid concerns about a rise in anti-abortion activity in Scotland.
In April, Dr Greg Irwin, a consultant pediatric radiologist, coordinated a letter signed by 76 colleagues at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, calling on the Scottish Government to “show courage” in buffer zones after their maternity unit had been regularly targeted by Texas. based group of 40 Days for Life.
Lucy Grieve, co-founder of Back Off Scotland, which is campaigning for the introduction of neutral zones, said: “John Mason is obviously entitled to his own views on abortion but he cannot use his platform as an MP to spread harmful narratives about abortion access in Scotland. While we are pleased that the SNP have taken action on this, John has continued to spread misinformation and cause concern since this letter was sent in June, which is unacceptable.”
After Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay launched a members’ bill to ensure access to services, Sturgeon pledged to work with her “to protect women’s access to abortion services without harassment or intimidation” when she announced her plan to the government in early September.
Mason said he would not comment until after the Queen’s funeral.