Aberdeen’s Lord Provost has come under fire after he rejected an emergency motion seeking to protect women from “fear and intimidation” outside medical clinics which offer abortion.
Labour councillor Deena Tissera brought forward an emergency motion to Aberdeen City Council in the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning the landmark ruling of Roe v Wade, which made abortion in all 50 states a constitutional right.
It also followed a summit on abortion in Scotland, chaired by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday.
After the summit, Sturgeon backed the idea that Scotland’s two largest cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, should trial buffer zones around abortion clinics to block pro-life protesters.
However, Tissera was “surprised” and “disappointed” to find that the Lord Provost Dr David Cameron blocked the motion, allegedly saying it was “not urgent”.
Aberdeen City Council insisted the rejection was due to the motion being submitted late, adding that other late motions were also refused.
On Friday, Tissera wrote to Sturgeon saying she was “dismayed” at the Supreme Court decision and was “delighted” to hear that the First Minister would encourage city councils to bring forward buffer zone bylaws.
She wrote: “In good faith I brought forward an emergency motion to Aberdeen City Council on Wednesday seeking the council to work with the Scottish Government to bring forward a bylaw just as you had suggested.
“I took you to your word when you said the Scottish Government would do everything they could to support local authorities who brought forward bylaws to protect women from fear and intimidation.
“Imagine my surprise, when the SNP Lord Provost refused to take my motion saying it was not urgent, despite the council not reconvening again until late August.
“I have been forced to use primary legislation to requisite a meeting which will now be held within 14 days of my request.
“I am on record as saying that I am really disappointed that the Lord Provost Dr David Cameron did not take my emergency motion, maybe it is because he is a man that he does not understand how urgent it is that a bylaw is introduced to provide a degree of protection to vulnerable women.”
The opposition councillor asked the First Minister to reiterate her support for a bylaw and “have a word” with SNP colleagues to “ensure that women and their human rights” would be protected.
An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: “A notice of motion was submitted on the morning of the full council meeting out with the deadlines set by the council’s standing orders.
“Similar to all other notices of motion submitted out with the relevant deadlines, the Lord Provost did not use his discretion to accept the notice of motion onto the agenda.
“Subsequently a request for a special full council was made in accordance with the council’s standing orders to consider the matter and that special meeting will take place within 14 days of the request.”