AN SNP MSP has been criticised for supporting the US Supreme Court's decision to end the constitutional right to abortion.

On Friday the 50-year-old Roe vs Wade ruling - which made abortion legal across the US - was overturned, paving the way for individual states to ban the terminations.

The decision has sparked uproar across the world and President Joe Biden described it as a "tragic error".

But SNP MSP John Mason - who has spoken out against abortion on multiple occasions and defended so-called anti-choice 'vigils'  -  said in an email the move was "pretty positive" and "good for democracy".

He also said the 24-week limit for abortion in Scotland should be reduced. 

The message - which has been made public at Mason's request - says: "I have to say I'm pretty positive about the recent US court ruling.

"In the first place, it's good for democracy as decisions on abortion will be made at a state level rather than United States wide.

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"This brings the US into line with the UK where decisions are made at a Scotland or England level.

"However, I fully accept the key issue here is on abortion itself. I note points people are making about women's rights. However, others would argue that from the point of conception there are two people with rights...both the women and the baby.

"So I very much see my role as speaking out for the weaker party, namely the baby.

"Even if abortion continues to be allowed in Scotland, we certainly need to reconsider the 24-week limit. 

"This is much higher than other European countries and is also now very out-of-date as science and medicine have advanced. Babies are more often surviving at 23 weeks so I would be keen that the limit be reduced."

Pro-choice campaigners have pointed out that, as it stands, no health board in Scotland provides abortion care up to the legal 24-week limit, with women often having to go to England to get a late-stage termination. 

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In response to Mason, Women's Health Minister Maree Todd said there was nothing positive about the US decision. 

She said: "For the avoidance of doubt: There is nothing positive about the recent US court ruling. Abortion has been legal in Scotland for over 50 years. There will be no change to that. Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks in Scotland. There will be no change to that."

Mason has since told The National: "The SNP have a long-standing tradition of freedom of conscience on issues like abortion.  Clearly, the public is split on these issues and so it is important that both sides are represented in the SNP, in the wider Yes movement, and in Parliament.  Democracy would be the poorer if one side was shut down.

"If we are serious about independence, we need the SNP and the Yes movement to be ‘big tents’ covering a wide range of views on many issues.  If we start excluding people with differing views on some of these subjects, it will make independence that much harder to achieve."

After the Supreme Court ruling, abortion access is expected to be cut off for about 36 million women of reproductive age, according to research from Planned Parenthood, a healthcare organisation that provides abortions.