They made the appeal for talks just after ministers announced plans to allow women to take abortion pills at home

Scotland’s bishops have asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for “renewed discussions” on abortion following the announcement of plans to allow women to take an abortion pill at home.

In a letter made public on Friday, the bishops said that “making abortion easier ignores the disturbing reality that an innocent human life is ended”, and that they wished to engage with the Scottish government on the issue. It was signed by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow and Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh and six other Scottish bishops.

Citing a nationwide opinion poll which found that 70 per cent of women wanted to see time limits for abortion reduced, the bishops wrote: “Since it is clear that a majority of our fellow citizens do not support the current abortion laws, the decision to ease them further appears to be in conflict with public opinion.

“The Church continues to speak up for the intrinsic value of human life and the good of both the child in the womb and its mother. This is crucially important, in a world where the rights of the weak and vulnerable are increasingly called into question, undermined and attacked,” the letter said.

Abortion law was devolved under the Scotland Act 2016. Currently, a woman can only take misoprostol, a medication that can be used to cause an abortion, inside a hospital or licensed clinic. The proposed change would allow women to take it at home.

The number of abortions that took place in Scotland last year was 12,063.

“With our shared desire to protect humanity, to tackle the damage done by abortion, and to give each individual every opportunity to flourish, we believe that we have a starting point for dialogue,” the letter said.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We believe all women in Scotland should have access to clinically safe and legal abortion services within the legal limits, that abortion care should be part of healthcare provisions, and that it should be free from stigma.”