A Glasgow SNP MSP has been rebuked by the First Minister over anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and clinics.

John Mason said that “no one is being harassed” at the vigils and protests and said plans for a law to create buffer zones to take protests away from sites was an overreaction.

Mason had said, during First Minister's Questions in Holyrood; “Would the First Minister accept that no one is being harassed at those vigils and protests, and no one is being intimidated?

“It is largely a small group of elderly religious people who are standing outside those facilities. Does he not think that we are overreacting slightly with legislation on the matter?”

Humza Yousaf said he did not agree and instead told Mason he should listen to the women and staff who are affected by the protests.

Yousaf said: “What is so important in this matter, particularly for men, is that we listen to the voices of women. Whatever John Mason’s view might be, women have given powerful evidence and testimony that they feel that harm is being done: they do feel harassed and intimidated.”

Groups of people are currently taking part in 40 days of protest outside sites, gathering with anti-abortion slogans on placards.

Outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, they have been confronted by staff pointing out the intimidation women and staff feel.

Yousaf added Mason should “listen to the clinicians at the services, such as Dr Greg Irwin and many others, who have spoken powerfully about the impact that those protests are having on staff.

He added: “John Mason knows that I am a religious person. I pray. People can pray anywhere in the world, for whatever they want, so I do not understand why they have to go to an abortion service where women will then feel harassed and intimidated.”

Gilliam Mackay, Green MSP, has put forward the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) bill that will create buffer zones outside health facilities.

She said: “Safe access zones must be the first stop in advancing rights in Scotland” and added the Scottish Government should go further and provide “abortion in Scotland up to the legal limit, ensuring equitable access to in vitro fertilisation, and removing abortion from criminal law.”

The First Minister said he and the Scottish Government supported the Bill and said the whole parliament should too.

He added: “I say once again to John Mason that it is crucial that, instead of imposing their view on what the impacts or effects of protests are on women, men listen to the voices of women, clinicians and staff at abortion services and that he would also do well to do so.”