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by Joseph Anderson
14 October 2021
SNP MSP John Mason admits to attending anti-abortion 'vigil' outside hospital

John Mason MSP - Image credit: Scottish Parliament

SNP MSP John Mason admits to attending anti-abortion 'vigil' outside hospital

An SNP MSP has been heavily criticised for the "shocking and deeply disturbing revelation" that he attended an anti-abortion protest outside a healthcare clinic.

Glasgow Shettleston MSP John Mason revealed in a letter to a constituent that he had attended an anti-abortion “vigil” outside of a hospital, and claimed that abortion services are seldom “essential” or “vital”.

Pro-choice campaigners such as Back Off Scotland have previously called for 150 metre buffer zones around healthcare clinics that provide abortion services in order to prevent the “intimidation and harassment” of patients.

When contacted by a constituent of Glasgow Shettleston, asking him to support the imposition of buffer zones, Mason wrote: “I have only visited one of these gatherings outside a hospital.

"It was at the QEUH in Glasgow and could not really be described as a protest. It was more like a vigil.

"They stood across a wide road from the hospital entrance and certainly did not approach anyone, harass anyone, or cause alarm or distress. Therefore, I am wondering which sites in Scotland have been causing a problem?”

“I take your point that abortion services are completely legal, however, I would have thought they are seldom ‘essential’ or ‘vital’.

“You make the point that someone may not have support when they attend a hospital or clinic. However, it may also be the case that this is one of the few opportunities that they realise they have a choice.

“Sadly some women are being coerced by a partner or family to have an abortion when they may not realise they have a choice, e.g. by having the baby and giving him/her up for adoption."

In response, Lucy Grieve, co-founder and director of Back Off Scotland said: “This is a shocking and deeply disturbing revelation from John Mason MSP. No woman should have to face intimidation or harassment when accessing abortion services.

“The Scottish Government are dragging their heels on buffer zone implementation, but given that an SNP MSP has now admitted to taking part in the protests, they need to come down strong on this.

“Back Off Scotland’s message to the Scottish Government is simple: take ownership, protect your citizens, and implement buffer zones nationwide now.”

Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who has previously called for buffer zones, tweeted: “A deeply worrying admission from anti-choice MSP John Mason that must be fully investigated by the SNP.

“Those who gather in this way near clinics are causing distress to women seeking abortion services.

“Stop dithering Scottish Government and legislate for buffer zones, now.”

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