Ethics Politics

Sturgeon’s Sorrow


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 –

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.







  1. Mmmm.

    Not as optimistic as you about Nicola’s motives. I hope you are right. However, I agree we should not be quick to judge motives. Judging actions is another matter altogether and seems to me altogether legitimate and necessary. I do not want the Keith Vazes of this world representing me. If people are shown to be dishonest in their personal life with those they know then I don’t trust them to be honest in their public life with those they don’t know. Public figures should be held to account for their private lives. Again, of course we should not be hasty in judging.

    I agree in a miscarriage a human life is lost. What that means in terms of personhood I am unsure. It seems unlikely to me that every spontaneously aborted foetus is an individual in heaven (or hell). If so, heaven will be populated more by aborted foetuses than people who were born and lived. Difficult issues.

  2. It is, perhaps, indicative of the reputation that politicians in general, and maybe the FM in particular, have garnered for themselves that so many, who sympathise with any woman who has suffered a miscarriage, question the timing of the “announcement”!

    The FM has recently suffered a number of negative situations – the legal judgement on the Named Person policy; the number of her party’s MPs who seem to be getting into hot water; the expense involved in her jaunts around the world trying to sell herself as a stateswoman; and, now, the £20k to send a painting of herself to New York (and no mention of how much the painting cost!). Rightly, or wrongly, many suspect that she is “using” this sad situation to try to recover some sympathy – much as the last PM of the UK tended to do with his disabled son!

    I, too, have dealt pastorally with those who have suffered a miscarriage, so I do have genuine sympathy concerning the ‘event’.

  3. Thank you very much for this thoughtful article on a difficult subject. We truly do not know what others have suffered and the hurt they may be carrying in their hearts – this includes individuals that we can start to forget are actually human and start to see only as political agendas, ideologies, and policies with heads.

    I have had many pregnacies that resulted in loss. I have one daughter and I almost miscarried her, as well. My husband and I have had many people pass judgement on us for having an “only” child because, of course, that means we were too self-focused to have more kids and instead decided to raise just one and spoil her rotten. Oh, how this hurts us! If people could only understand our gratitude that I carried one child full-term and the abundant blessing she is to us!

    Thank you, again, for your article. Through your words of kindness and effort to understand the hurt and loss of Nicola Sturgeon, for a moment, I felt understood and also, comforted. I also was reminded to pray and care for those that I lack understanding toward.

  4. David,

    a sympathetic post – a pastor’s heart rather than political support. Being of a different political view, I struggle (successfully I pray) not to share John Thomson’s opening sentiment but the whole episode highlights the basic ambivalence in society’s attitude to the unborn child. For me the very fact that parents grieve for the loss of their child gives the lie to the abortionists’ assertions, even without resort to Scripture.

    As for John’s concluding thoughts we do not know the destination of the unborn – only that whatever it may be it is in God’s hands and will therefore be “right”. But if they are in heaven I think they will have a special place. I’m reminded of Michel Qoist who wrote that only children will get to heaven. Some will be a bit wrinkled and stooped (on arrival at least) but children none the less and more precious to the chief Shepherd than we can ever imagine.

  5. As far as I can tell, Nicola Sturgeon gave an interview quite some time ago as part of a forthcoming book on SNP Leaders. She did not know of any supposed reasons for political ‘unpopularity’ at the time – although judging from recent Opinion Polls in Scotland there is a fairly limited amount of that!
    She gave this information – seemingly in the passing – and sought neither sympathy or a special place as a woman.
    Foe once it would be a great thing if we could simply look at the individual as just that – and leave the usual cynicism about politicians (and perhaps (in some Christian circles) female politicians in particular) at the door.

  6. Hi I read a comment above about babies who are aborted or suffer miscarriage and the possibility they go to heaven or hell. There is no doubt in the churches mind they go to heaven. Some might say they were not baptised or had not given their lives to the Lord consciously therefore they are doomed. God is greater than that believe me ! He is not bound by formulae or sacrament ie He can and does love and save outside as well as through other wonderful means within the church ‘ let there be no bounds to your love as there are no bounds to your heavenly Father’s love’ ( the NJB early version before they unfortunately put back in ‘be perfect…)
    Journey without End by Carlo Carretto has a chapter on Carlo’s vision of babies who had been aborted and over a short few days how they grew and were so happy and praying that their mothers turn to Jesus and receive His Mercy and to forgive themselves and that the babies were waiting with so much love to one day see there mums with them in Heaven. Now this guy Carlo is the business. ANyone discerning enough reading that book will know the vision war real and Carlo was so real he was i think as near to ‘ the glory of God is man fully alive’ as one can get !! Carlo actually did say in the book this would be his last and that he felt soon he was going to heaven and it was his last book dying shortly after.
    I mentioned this book at a Charismatic renewal conference where there were several ladies young and old who had had abortions. ( i did apologize as i began sharing that it is a pain in the … when someone starts quoting books and suggesting one buys it now!) ANyway i was overjoyed to be told that the several books on sale at the bookstore there were purchased straight after.
    God bless
    ps it is a wonderful thing to touch the Hope of God

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