There was one item of news over this weekend that really struck a chord with me. It was revealed that first Minister Nicola Sturgeon had suffered a miscarriage just before the last Scottish election in 2011. It was an admirable and brave statement.
It was brave because Nicola Sturgeon, as the leader of the SNP and the First Minister of Scotland, is the subject of constant abuse and therefore to speak about such a private matter in public was to invite that abuse into a very personal area of her life. I don’t think she did so for political gain, but rather to highlight the fact that one in four pregnancies result in miscarriage and many women go through the grief of that alone or with only their partners, or close family knowing.
As a pastor in a church with a lot of young people I have wept with those who weep because their pregnancy has resulted in miscarriage. It is something that many of us have experienced. And many also experience the fear of announcing that you are pregnant and then having something go wrong. It’s why many couples do not let people know of a pregnancy until they have passed the 12-week scan. Miscarriage does often result in feelings of guilt, weakness and depression. It is a painful and confusing time. And that this is as true of a political figure as it is of anyone else. I sometimes think that we treat our politicians as though they are less than human and do not experience the same feelings and emotions and thoughts as the rest of us.
What particularly bothered me about Nicola Sturgeon’s situation, is that there were those (including some Christians) who commented on the fact that she was childless and assumed that it was because she had made the choice to put her career first and not to have children. Incidentally do you not think that there is a kind of misogynistic hypocrisy in asking female politicians why they don’t have children, when we would not ask male politicians the same question? We also need to be very careful about making judgements about politicians private life’s, when we just do not know. How hurtful would it have been to read some of these comments knowing that you had just lost your child? Nicola Sturgeon made the correct observation
“The point is that judgments and assumptions shouldn’t be made about what are personal choices and experiences.”
From a Christian perspective there are two observations I would make;
Firstly we are to pray for our political leaders not to sit in judgement upon them and their personal lives, especially when we do not know them. We may disagree about particular policies, but that is a world away from condemning somebody for something that we do not really know about. It’s only God who knows the heart, not his people. We should think more than twice before we make judgemental statements that only the Lord has the right to make.
Secondly we need to ask, why is there such a sense of grief and mourning over miscarriage? This is true not just for the woman concerned but also for the father. I suspect that in many cases for the mother there is a deeper sense of loss, because the mother has the extra burden of the child being part of her body until she is either born or miscarries, but the father also experiences real sorrow. We remember Peter Murrell as well.
Sometimes there are those who like Job’s comforters show callousness and a hardheartedness that basically just says, “Get over it. These things happen. You can try again”. The reason that that is callous and hard-hearted is that it is true, but it is not the whole truth. The fact is that we mourn miscarriages not just because of a lost opportunity and the lost potential of life, but because we recognise that an actual human life has been lost. This is not just a collection of cells, or the removal of some appendage to the body. This is a human life which was albeit briefly, part of our lives. Anne Furedi Chief Executive of BPAS, the chief providers of abortion in Britain, gave an amazing interview to Spiked, in which she admitted that the child in the womb is human. You can hear this and our response to it here – https://theweeflea.com/2016/08/19/quantum-75-the-argument-in-favour-of-abortion-is-changing-are-you-ready-to-respond-to-it/
Back to the First Minister. She is to be commended wholeheartedly for her brave statement. Christians should pray for her and her husband Peter. We should be in prayer for our political leaders, not just as those who have authority over us, but also as our fellow human beings who experience the same joys and tragedies as the rest of us.
2Cor. 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.