Ruth Davidson’s refusal to oppose the so-called rape clause is “utterly shameful”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The SNP leader attacked her Scottish Conservative counterpart during a First Minister’s Questions session at Holyrood that largely consisted of general election pitches.
Ms Sturgeon said Ms Davidson should not to “pass the buck” on the child tax credit reform and “tell Scotland straight, do you support the rape clause in principle or do you, like me, think it is utterly abhorrent?”
The Tory leader responded by saying: “If the First Minister doesn’t like the two-child tax policy, she can change it.”
The Scottish Parliament has the powers to create new benefits and Ms Davidson said on Wednesday that her party could back a “large family supplement” to top up benefits in Scotland.
MSPs in the Scottish Parliament chanted “shame, shame” as Ms Sturgeon added: “Shame on Ruth Davidson and shame on the Conservatives.”
Protests, led by Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss, took place against the policy outside the Scottish Parliament.
Welfare reforms introduced by the UK Government earlier this month cut child tax credit and Universal Credit for third or subsequent children.
A number of exemptions to the new rules are in place, including multiple birth, adoption and non-consensual pregnancy.
The “rape clause” means women who were the victim of rape or conceived while in a coercive relationship will have to prove their third child was born as a result of this in order to qualify for an exemption.
Ms Sturgeon added: “We have just seen in this chamber the true colours of Ruth Davidson and the Conservatives.
“Given the opportunity to stand up clearly and join others in this chamber and say the rape clause – a clause that forces a woman to prove she has been raped before claiming benefits for her child – is morally and in principle wrong, Ruth Davidson refuses to do so.
“That is utterly shameful.”
Ms Davidson accused the SNP of “writing offensive and negative trash about our country” earlier in the session.
Her comments were in reference to a newspaper column by Nationalist MSP Joan McAlpine, who wrote in her Daily Record newspaper column that the election of another Conservative government would make the UK “Hell on earth. Eternal damnation in a bottomless pit of austerity.”