Nicola Sturgeon caught in embarrassing SNP row after MSP claims clinics ‘pushing abortion’

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Scotland’s First Minister described comments made by Glasgow Shettleston MSP John Mason as “wrong”. He was criticised last weekend for saying clinics “push abortion without laying out the pros and cons”.

Mr Mason wrote in an email to campaign group Back Off Scotland that he believed abortion was “seldom essential or vital”.

He also told Back Off Scotland, which seeks to put up buffers between anti-abortion vigils and patients of abortion providers, that he had attended one such event to speak to people.

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

Asked about his comments on Monday while visiting a new NHS 24 building in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon 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.”

Supreme Court judges are expected to strike down the right to an abortion in the United States.

A leaked draft decision has shown that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which protects a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

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Ms Sturgeon told reporters on Monday that people who wish to protest abortion in Scotland should do so outside parliament rather than hospitals.

Asked about Mr Mason’s claim 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.”

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

Mr Sarwar said: “This has an emotional impact on people across the country.”

He added that 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.

Scottish Labour’s leader said: “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.”

Ms Sturgeon is due to visit Washington DC next week to set out the Scottish Government’s interests in global issues in what has been dubbed as an “independence tour”.

The First Minister is expected to speak at the Brookings Institution think tank and meet congressional groups.

It follows publication of the Scottish Government’s Global Affairs Framework, which outlines the values underpinning its international work.

The document noted that it would apply regardless of Scotland’s constitutional position.

However, it said there would be another “prospectus for enhanced international relations as an independent state” which would be “published in the run-up to the independence referendum”.

Scottish Conservative MSP, Donald Cameron, said: “Just a few days after the local elections and Nicola Sturgeon has already abandoned local issues to jet off on an indy tour to the United States.

“The vast majority of Scots don’t want a referendum on Nicola Sturgeon’s timeline, yet instead of focusing on the issues Scots really care about, the First Minister would rather promote independence abroad at the taxpayers’ expense.

“The Scottish public will be outraged to see the First Minister taking her eye off the ball so soon after local elections – not to mention furious at this waste of taxpayer money in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“Nicola Sturgeon should be focusing on tackling her Government’s woeful record here at home, instead of taking the SNP’s obsession with independence on tour.”

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