Nicola Sturgeon issues 'heartfelt' apology to victims of forced adoption
Nicola Sturgeon has issued a "sincere, heartfelt and unreserved" apology over forced adoption in one of her final acts as first minister.
Estimates suggest as many as 60,000 women were forced to give their babies up for adoption in the 1950s-70s, with some of those children later subjected to abuse.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the outgoing SNP leader said the "terrible wrongs" are "almost impossible to comprehend".
With victims and campaigners observing from the public gallery, she said: "Today, as first minister, on behalf of the Scottish Government, I say directly to the mothers who had their babies taken away from them, to the sons and the daughters who were separated from their parents, to the fathers who were denied their rights and to the families who have lived with this legacy, for the decades of pain that you have suffered, I offer today a sincere, heartfelt and unreserved apology.
"We are sorry."
Sturgeon said many of the babies went to "loving homes" and acknowledging the injustices they faced "should never been seen as a rejection of the deep bonds that people share with adopted families".
The practice was carried out in a society which treated women as "second class citizens, where unmarried mothers were stigmatised and where people in authority had too much power," Sturgeon said.
She told the chamber: "Some women were never even allowed to hold their babies, most never got the chance to say goodbye and many were threatened with terrible consequences if they ever tried to make contact with a child."
The apology follows consultation with campaigners. The Scottish Government has committed around £145,000 for counselling and support to those affected.