THE SNP’s support for abortion in Scotland is costing independence support, an MSP has claimed.

Speaking at conference against a motion on abortion, Glasgow Shettleston’s John Mason told SNP delegates that the party had always been a “sizeable minority” who opposed the service provision.

Mason said: “The thing that held us together has been a desire for Scottish freedom and we have agreed to disagree on many points.

“Clearly, abortion is a controversial issue and has been for a long time. I fully accept that a majority of members do support abortion, but there has always been a sizeable minority in the party and in society who would take a pro-life position.”

READ MORE: John Mason disciplined for defending anti-abortion protestors targeting clinics

He went on: “My main question today is whether we wish to continue with the big tent inclusive approach, which in my view maximises the chance of achieving independence by keeping as many people on board as possible.

“Or on the other hand, do we want to narrow down our support base so that someone has to support independence and has to support a pro-choice position in order to be an active member of the SNP?”

Women’s health minister Maree Todd spoke in favour of the motion. “Let me be absolutely crystal clear – I believe that women have the right to choose when and if they have children,” she said.

“Conference, support the motion, oppose the remit back and stand up for women’s rights.”

Delegates voted “overwhelmingly” to pass the motion, which seeks to “ensure that national buffer zone legislation is enacted to protect those who are attending reproductive medicine clinics/hospitals offering abortion services”.

The Scottish Government has pledged to support Green MSP Gillian Mackay in her attempts to implement buffer zones after a number of high profile instances of protests – sometimes described as “vigils” by participants – outside places where abortions are offered.