A Scottish National Party MSP has been reprimanded for defending anti-abortion protests outside health clinics.
In a written warning from party whips at Holyrood, Glasgow Shettleston MSP John Mason was accused of causing “great distress and trauma to many women”.
Mason has previously defended protests that have taken off across Scotland, describing them as “mild” and “awakened” and suggesting that “some clinics seem to be pushing for abortion without laying out 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 absolutely 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.”
“The verbalization of your views has caused great distress and trauma to many women and has also been seen as misinformation by medical professionals. As you know, the First Minister has committed to exploring all possible options to ensure safe access zones for women and girls accessing health services.”
The letter was sent days after Nicola Sturgeon hosted a roundtable summit to explore the introduction of buffer zones to prevent protests taking place right outside clinics and hospitals, amid concerns about growing anti-abortion activity in Scotland.
In April, senior pediatric radiologist Dr Greg Irwin coordinated a letter signed by 76 colleagues at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital calling on the Scottish Government to “show courage” over buffer zones, after their maternity ward has been regularly targeted by the Texas- based group. of 40 days for life.
Lucy Grieve, co-founder of Back Off Scotland, which campaigns for the introduction of buffer 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 to abortion in Scotland. While we are pleased that the SNP have taken action on this, John has continued to spread misinformation and cause distress since this letter was sent in June, which is unacceptable.”
After Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay launched a member’s bill to ensure access to services, Sturgeon pledged to work with her “to ensure women’s access to abortion services without harassment or intimidation” when she announced her program for government in early September .
Mason said he would not comment until after the Queen’s funeral.