Scottish government accused of downplaying pro-life views in abortion consultation
The Scottish government has been accused of "deliberately diminishing" the views of thousands of people who responded to its consultation on home abortions.
'DIY' abortions have been permitted since the start of the pandemic and the Scottish government intends to make the arrangements permanent.
The consultation asked people to comment on the impact of DIY abortions on safety, accessibility, convenience and waiting times for women.
In published results, the Scottish government differentiated between total responses and figures excluding standard submissions from a campaign run by pro-life group Right to Life UK.
When all responses were considered, the majority were negative towards all four points, but especially on safety (74%). When Right to Life responses were excluded, this fell to 47%.
Similarly, 61% of all respondents indicated they would prefer a return to the previous arrangements before home abortions were allowed, but when the Right to Life campaign responses were excluded, this fell to 21%.
But Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, questioned why these pro-life responses were singled out for exclusion.
He said the Scottish government had "shockingly sought to downplay those individuals who raised concerns, labelling a significant number of the responses as 'organised by pro-life or faith groups' as if to downgrade their importance".
"The same treatment was not given to pro-abortion groups," he said.
DIY abortions make it possible for women to terminate their pregnancies at home after an e-consultation with a doctor.
The Scottish government published a health plan for women last month in which it set out its intention to "make telephone and video consultation universally available as an option for abortion services".
While it has promised to commission an independent evaluation into the effectiveness of home abortions, Mr Horan said the commitment in the Women's Health Plan risks undermining this.
He accused the Scottish government of being "hellbent" on making home abortion arrangements permanent.
"The Scottish Government is risking the health and wellbeing of vulnerable women and their unborn children and riding roughshod over democratic convention," he said.
"It is dangerous for women, and it is dangerous for democracy."