First Minister must allow common sense to prevail on abortion issues - Catherine Salmond

Tomorrow our First Minister will hold an emergency summit in Edinburgh on abortion care in Scotland.

The timing could not be better given the unbelievable events to have unfolded in the US.

What else can I say about the move by the Supreme Court to overturn abortion rights, upending Roe v Wade, when so many people, including world leaders, have already eloquently expressed their disgust at the move? Disgusting does not cover it.

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Demonstrators rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 25. Picture: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Barack Obama described it as "devastating", adding that not only had 50 years of precedent been reversed, but the move had “relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues – attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans”.

Nicola Sturgeon quite rightly described it as “one of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime”.

So, tomorrow, the issue of abortion will hit home soil as she meets with campaign groups and health and political leaders in our capital city.

They are not – thankfully – meeting to discuss whether abortion rights should be overturned in Scotland, but to discuss issues this newspaper has highlighted for many months, including the issue of calls for buffer zones around clinics following a rise in intimidating protests as women arrive to access healthcare in often traumatic circumstances.

I am thrilled that representatives from campaign group Back off Scotland – whose work continues to feature heavily in our pages – have been invited to speak.

Sturgeon has said she is “an ally” of the group who believes 150-metre buffer zones should be made law around clinics where women are seeking abortions.

"There are issues we need to solve to achieve our shared objective of effective buffer zones - but if we work in a spirit of solidarity we’ll get there,” Sturgeon tweeted late on Friday. “And that’s even more important now after news. See you Monday.”

I am encouraged by these words from the First Minister and hope that with her backing and leadership, common sense can prevail in Scotland.

This is an easy vote winner for her – gaining the trust and support of women of all ages – but it is also the right thing to do. We need open discussion and we need action.

Catherine Salmond is editor of Scotland on Sunday

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