The Scottish Government has no plans to change the current time limits for abortion, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon was questioned on the issue following reports that the UK Government is planning to devolve control over abortion law to Holyrood.
Such a move could allow MSPs to increase or lower the UK’s existing 24-week limit for pregnancy termination, prompting campaign groups to voice concern about the possible implications of different rules applying north and south of the border.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the Scottish Government believes abortion law should be devolved to “bring it into line with almost all other health matters”.
But she added: “Let me be absolutely clear: the Scottish Government’s position on abortion law remains unchanged. We have no plans to change the law on abortion.”
The Smith Commission report on further devolution last year recommended that serious consideration should be given to the transfer of abortion law to Edinburgh.
Reports at the weekend suggested an agreement will be reached to add abortion law to the Scotland Bill, which is transferring a variety of new powers to Holyrood.
Questioning Ms Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament, Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said groups such as Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland, as well as organisations like the STUC, have “real concerns this can have an impact on women in Scotland”.
Ms Grant also asked about the Scottish Government’s reason for seeking the transfer of abortion law to Holyrood “if she has no plans to change the law, and given that we believe that powers should be sought for a purpose”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I think where this Parliament is responsible for the NHS framework we should also be responsible – as we are in most other matters – for the laws that the NHS works within.
“There are many responsibilities that this Parliament has on issues where I have no current plans to change the substance of the laws. That doesn’t negate the issue in principle that it is this Parliament that should have responsibility.”
Reiterating her stance, the SNP leader added: “Let me by absolutely clear of my own view and of the Scottish Government’s position.
“I have no intention, this Government has no intention, of legislating to change the current time limits for abortion.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison is writing to a number of women’s groups this week to clarify Scottish ministers’ position, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs.