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Fife’s Shirley-Anne Somerville slams SNP colleague John Mason’s abortion comments

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Shirley-Anne Somerville claimed party colleague John Mason “understands very little” about how abortion clinics work.

The Fife-born education secretary publicly criticised Mr Mason after he sparked anger by admitting he felt “positive” about the decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

The party rift comes as Nicola Sturgeon held an emergency summit following the landmark ruling to undo the “Roe v Wade” protection in the US for pregnant woman to choose to have an abortion.

Pro-choice campaigners in Scotland want to see buffer zones introduced outside hospitals in Scotland to limit anti-abortion protests.

John Mason.

Pro-life MSP Mr Mason has regularly defended the controversial vigils.

But Dunfermline MSP Ms Somerville hit out at him, saying: “I respect people have different views on abortion however John Mason’s latest response shows he understands very little about what goes on either inside or outside clinics.

“The only thing that will developin coming days/months is work to further support and protect women who will continue to have the right choose as part of our right to determine what happens to our bodies.”

I have to say I am pretty positive about the recent US court ruling.

– John Mason

The SNP’s public health minister Maree Todd also blasted Mr Mason for his comments on abortion.

She tweeted: “There is nothing positive about the recent US court ruling. Abortion has been legal in Scotland for over 50 years. There will be no change to that.”

‘Pretty positive’

In an email to a constituent, Mr Mason had said: “I have to say I am pretty positive about the recent US court ruling.

“I note points people are making about women’s rights. However, others would argue that from the point of conception there are two people with rights.”

Mr Mason has attracted controversy in the past for suggesting some women are pressured into getting abortions in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon.

After Monday’s “summit”, the first minister said there was “no doubt” the long-term solution is to introduce national legislation on creating “buffer zones” for protestors.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We wouldn’t tolerate for any other kind of healthcare, people, as they enter a hospital or a clinic, being subject to intimidation or harassment, and we shouldn’t tolerate it, in my view, for women accessing abortion services.”

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