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What did John Mason say about abortion clinics? SNP MSP criticised for comments and defence of vigils

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and women’s health minister Maree Todd have being urged to act against anti-abortion hospital “vigils” and introduce buffer zones

SNP MSP John Mason has faced criticism for his comments about abortion clinics.

But what did he say and what was the reaction?

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What did John Mason say about abortion clinics?

John Mason has faced criticism after he said clinics “push abortion without laying out the pros and cons”.

John Mason, who represents Glasgow Shettleston, has also been criticised in recent weeks for his defence of anti-abortion “vigils” that have taken place at Glasgow hospitals.

SNP MSP John Mason has faced criticism for his comments about abortion clinics

In an email to campaign group Back Off Scotland, which aims to implement buffer zones around abortion providers in order to push vigils further away from patients, Mr Mason said he had attended one of the events to speak to the people there.

He went on to say he believed abortion was “seldom essential or vital”.

He also said on Twitter that “surely these signs are very gentle and offering help?”, when engaging in discussion about the signs some hold up at vigils, which often say slogans such as ‘women do regret abortion’.

When Mr Mason was asked if he believed the women seeking an abortion should be asked how they feel, he said: “Yes absolutely.

“That is the key.

“But the concern is that the clinics are not always asking the women how they feel.

“Some clinics seem to be pushing abortion without laying out the pros and cons.”

What was the reaction to John Mason’s comments?

Lucy Grieve, the co-founder and director of Back Off Scotland, said: “John Mason’s false claims are incredibly dangerous and ignorant.

“This is the same elected official that admitted attending anti-choice protests at Scottish hospitals.

“He clearly has no idea what goes on during an abortion, and his comments are offensive to abortion providers and their patients.”

Scottish Labour Deputy leader Jackie Baillie added: “This is an insult to all the women who’ve had to make this difficult decision and all the hardworking NHS staff who’ve supported them through it.

“Women have a right to access abortion, and they should be able to do so without harassment and intimidation.

“Nicola Sturgeon has given plenty of warm words on this but no action, it is time for her to show the leadership needed and introduce buffer zones, as well as stopping her MSPs spreading damaging falsehoods.”

In recent months, Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay has sought to legislate at Holyrood for buffer zones.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and women’s health minister Maree Todd have also being urged to act.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly condemned the vigils and has urged protesters to instead  come to parliament to voice their opposition to abortion.

She has also set up a working group to assess the legal viability of buffer zones.