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Fife MP stands by anti-abortion vote as Nicola Sturgeon holds ‘summit’

Peter Grant MP
Peter Grant MP

Glenrothes MP Peter Grant stood by his decision to vote against abortion laws on the day his party leader Nicola Sturgeon led talks on services in Scotland.

During the “summit” on Monday, the first minister condemned some within her own SNP party for their stance.

Ms Sturgeon was looking at proposals to ban anti-abortion protests outside clinics in Scotland.

However, Mr Grant told The Courier his views are known, having previously voted against legalising abortions in Northern Ireland.

‘Conscience’

“We have always respected each other’s right to vote with their conscience,” he said.

“I have told you my view – I vote according to my conscience, as do all my colleagues.”

In 2019, Mr Grant voted against legalising abortions in Northern Ireland.

Almost all other members of his party abstained from voting on this particular subject.

The only other one who chose to vote was East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP Dr Lisa Cameron, who also voted against the proposals.

Mr Grant has abstained from every other vote on abortion in the House of Commons, but has said he disagrees with protests outside abortion clinics on social media.

Senior SNP women criticise John Mason

His comments come as a number of senior women within the Scottish Government criticised SNP MSP John Mason for comments on abortion rights.

John Mason MSP

Mr Mason has been an outspoken pro-life campaigner, and has even attended an anti-abortion demonstration outside Queen Elizabeth University Hospital himself.

Speaking on Monday after the summit on abortion services, the first minister said Mr Mason is “very much in a minority in our party, and probably a minority in Scotland”.

Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd echoed Ms Sturgeon’s reaction, as did health secretary and Dunfermline MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Ms Somerville hit out on social media, 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 develop in the coming days and months is work to further support and protect women who will continue to have the right to choose as part of our right to determine what happens to our bodies.”

Summit

In Edinburgh, the first minister was joined by representatives from local government, support groups, police, the NHS and campaigners.

They discussed options for laws to establish buffer zones around clinics in response to anti-abortion vigils taking place as women attend to access services.

The first minister said there was “no doubt” the long-term solution is to introduce national legislation, though she said there was a need to get the balance right for such action to withstand “inevitable” challenges from European human rights legislation.

Ms Sturgeon reported that Police Scotland were “very engaged” in the issue, but she noted that she could not instruct them to take action against protesters outside healthcare services.

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