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Catholic Parliamentary Office accuses Scottish Government of 'riding roughshod over democracy' on home abortion plans

by Donna Birrell

Some Scottish Catholics are accusing the government at Holyrood of diminishing democracy following its recent consultation on whether home abortions, brought in during the pandemic, should be made permanent.

The Catholic Parliamentary Office claims officials have ignored the views of thousands of individuals who oppose the move, with only 17 percent of respondents supporting home abortions becoming permanently available, with 61 per cent wanting them ended and 74 percent saying they had a negative impact on the safety of women. 

An open letter to the Scottish, Welsh and English governments was also signed by 600 medical professionals calling for an end to "at-home" due to the risk of abortions occurring beyond the ten-week limit and the coercion of women and girls to abort against their will.

Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan, claims the views of those who raised concerns were downplayed by the government because they were "organised by pro-life or faith groups" while the same treatment was not given to pro-abortion groups.

Horan says the Scottish Government is "hell bent on making the arrangements permanent" and claims "the Scottish Government is risking the health and wellbeing of vulnerable women and their unborn children and riding roughshod over democratic convention.

"It is dangerous for women, and it is dangerous for democracy," he added.

In a statement to Premier, the Scottish government said:

"The current arrangements will remain in place whilst the pandemic continues and a decision on the future of the arrangements will be made following the evaluation and taking into account evidence from the consultation responses." 

But, Peter Kearney, the Director of the Scottish Catholics Media Office, told Premier this is misleading :

"They may not have publicised a final decision, but the impression is quite clear, they have already decided what they want to do, which does beg the question why hold a consultation in the first place? They also did say though that they would undertake an independent evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the current approach. Well, that hasn't happened yet. We would like that to happen. But at the same time, we do question whether or not this will be independent, since the government have already said they intend to continue the approach that they're taking at the moment. "

Scottish government's full statement:

"The public consultation received over 5,500 responses and all were included in the analysis, which was carried out by an external research organisation independently of the Scottish Government.

"Respondents to the consultation on the future of the arrangements offered differing views, particularly in relation to whether the current approach is sufficiently safe. In order to ensure robust evidence is available, the Scottish Government is commissioning an independent evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the current approach, including in relation to safety.  

"The current arrangements will remain in place whilst the pandemic continues and a decision on the future of the arrangements will be made following the evaluation and taking into account evidence from the consultation responses.

"The actions within the Women's Health Plan in relation to increasing options for women around where they can take abortion medication will be considered further following the forthcoming evaluation to explore whether there are other places where it may be appropriate for women to take abortion medication."

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