SNP MSP disciplined over support for anti-abortion protest

John Mason MSP was previously criticised for claiming that abortion healthcare was “seldom essential or vital”.

Campaigners praise SNP after party MSP disciplined over support for anti-abortion protest STV News

Abortion rights campaigners have welcomed news that an SNP MSP has been disciplined after he defended anti-abortion protests outside hospitals.

John Mason received a written warning from the party in which he has been accused of causing “great distress and trauma” after he made claims about abortion access and the rights of people to protest outside clinics.

The Glasgow Shettleston MSP was previously criticised by politicians and campaigners after he claimed that abortion healthcare was “seldom essential or vital”.

Campaign group Back Off Scotland, which has been fighting for protective buffer zone restrictions around health centres, welcomed the action by the party, but said Mason had “continued to spread misinformation”.

Mason said he had attended a “vigil” held by anti-choice protesters and made the claim that clinics “push abortion without laying out the pros and cons”.

The SNP internal letter, shared with the Daily Record, said: “Your lack of sensitivity especially in the current context has been noted.

“Your behaviour and conduct have been extremely disappointing, and we believe that you have brought the parliamentary group into disrepute.”

It was issued on June 29 from chief whip Gordon MacDonald MSP and the party group convenor Stuart McMillan MSP.

The letter continues: “We would like to make it clear that we absolutely respect your right to hold your views on abortion and your right to freedom of speech and expression. We do not, however, believe that you have the right to impose these views on others.

“The verbalisation of your views has caused great distress and trauma to many women and have also been regarded 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 healthcare.”

The warning will stay on file for 24 months and, the letter states, “there must be no further breaches” during this time.

Back Off Scotland told STV News: “John is obviously entitled to his own views on abortion, but he cannot use his platform as a parliamentarian to spread misinformation about abortion access in Scotland.

“Whilst we’re glad 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.”

In April this year, 76 medical professionals signed a letter from Back Off Scotland calling for buffer zones to protect patients from intimidation and harassment while accessing health facilities.

A spokesperson for the SNP said: “We do not comment on internal party matters.”

STV News approached John Mason for comment but were told he would not be commenting, “because of the Queen’s death”, until after the funeral on Monday.

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