MSP disciplined by SNP for defending pro-life support outside abortion clinics

The SNP has censured one of its own MSPs for expressing pro-life views.

John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, tweeted earlier this year that signs in Glasgow saying “women do regret abortion” were “very gentle and offering help”.

A letter leaked to the Daily Record revealed that party whips gave him a formal written warning in June, which will stay on record for 24 months, for such public remarks.

No respect

The letter, written by SNP whips Stuart McMillan and Gordon MacDonald, claimed that they “absolutely respect your right to hold your views on abortion and your right to freedom of speech and expression”. But then stated: “We do not, however, believe that you have the right to impose these views on others”.

The SNP whips then went on to claim: “The verbalisation of your views has caused great distress and trauma to many women and have also been regarded as misinformation by medical professionals.”

However, the letter offered no evidence to substantiate the claims.

In response, Mr Mason said: “You say that I have the ‘right to freedom of speech and expression’ on abortion but later that the ‘verbalisation of your views has caused great distress and trauma’. I am struggling to see how these two fit together.”


He added: “I accept that for many people who have decided on an abortion, they are content with the service provided. However, for at least some women who perhaps were being coerced or who had not fully made up their minds, they consider that they have had a bad experience.”

Mason previously stated that he was aware of mothers who had “very bad experiences” at abortion clinics and “effectively found themselves on a conveyor belt”.

In an email to pro-abortion group Back Off Scotland, which seeks to impose ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics, the MSP said abortion was “seldom essential or vital”.


Earlier this year, leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill KC warned that plans to trial censorship zones around abortion clinics in Scotland risk infringing civil liberties.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has backed proposals to restrict free speech in the zones, and City Councils including Glasgow and Edinburgh have said they are willing to test bans on people handing out pro-life literature, offering prayer, and speaking to women about abortion.

O’Neill stated: “There is no doubt that the creation of buffer zones which seek to exclude protests or people assembling in otherwise public spaces in principle engages the protesters’ human rights”.

Also see:

Baby in womb

German court overturns ban on prayer gatherings outside abortion centre

US flight attendant sacked for pro-life views awarded $5.1 million in damages

Ireland to impose abortion ‘censorship zones’

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