Finally, Scots can have a progressive debate on abortion

I want to first of all thank National Collective for allowing me to use their snazzy website to gather my thoughts on abortion and the referendum. Sometimes, a subject merits more that a few, frantic 140 character outbursts.

Second of all, kudos to the Scotland on Sunday. Kudos, that is, despite a blatantly unbalanced article and a laughably hyperbolic headline. Abortion was always going to be part of the independence debate, Tom Peterkin just got there first.

If we’re going to take the independence debate seriously – if we’re going to have this much vaunted ‘great debate’ – then we cannot shirk from delicate issues. This cannot be a campaign of pet issues or comfort zones – everything is up for grabs, everything is on the table.

So, a minister makes the obvious point; an independent Scotland will have to make law on abortion. Is this as an opportunity or a threat? Your answer, unfortunately, may largely depend on your constitutional outlook.

Some otherwise progressive political types will shake their heads, tut, and declare this whole abortion business as another uncertainly we cannot afford to test. These types demonstrate a shocking lack of faith in the Scots’ capacity for progressive thought.

Look at the major social issues over which the Scottish Parliament already has jurisdiction. Look at marriage equality, where a campaign for same-sex marriage was propelled to the top of the political agenda by a groundswell of public support. Look at the repeal of Clause 28, where a Labour-Lib Dem government was able to draw on public support to do the right thing.

The small ‘c’ conservative Scot is no longer representative of our popular social attitudes. Go look at any poll or social survey taken during the last four years – those fighting to enlarge our liberty and expand our rights are winning the argument. Where we have been given the opportunity to progress on social equality, the Scottish Parliament has risen to the occasion. If you can recognise that, the case for full control over social issues becomes a real no-brainer.

Abortion in this debate is nothing short of an opportunity for those of us who believe in protecting women’s reproductive rights. So, please, enough of the faux indignation.

Alex MacLeod
Political Blogger 

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About Alex MacLeod

Alex MacLeod is a former researcher to First Minister Alex Salmond and campaign manager to Rob Gibson. In May this year, he was elected Scotland's youngest councillor.

There are 2 comments

  1. Grant Thoms

    sorry Alex but I’m at a loss to figure out what you are arguing for here…. is it right that a Health Minister should promote personal views over Government or even party policy to start a debate? Shouldn’t the debate be started through National Assembly and appropriate policy forums so that we can have an equal say in a debate? Unless there are moves to change the legal status quo, I see little merit in raising this divisive issue and I will definitely resist any suggestion of changing our current abortion laws..

  2. Alex MacLeod

    This is something we’ll have to legislate on after 2016 – why wouldn’t we discuss it (formally or informally) before the referendum? There’s a whole world outside of SNP policy forums – we’re going to have to engage folk on a huge variety of issues, and like it or not this is going to be one of them.

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