Childless Scottish nationalist leader Sturgeon reveals 2011 miscarriage

September 4, 2016 7:45 AM EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose childlessness has been a matter of media speculation over the years, has revealed she suffered a miscarriage in 2011.

Following the publication of extracts from a book in the Sunday Times, in which the author referred to Sturgeon losing a baby, the Scottish National Party leader said she hoped it would challenge some of the assumptions and judgments made about women, especially in politics, who don't have children.

"This was obviously a painful experience for (husband) Peter (Murrell) and I," Sturgeon, 46, said in a statement on Twitter.

"By allowing my own experience to be reported I hope, perhaps ironically, that I might contribute in a small way to a future climate in which these matters are respected as entirely personal - rather than pored over and speculated about as they often are now."

Prime Minister Theresa May has also had to deal with media attention on why she has no children. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday this year she spoke of the sadness she and her husband Philip had experienced after being unable to have children.

During the ruling Conservative Party leadership contest in July, her rival Andrea Leadsom caused uproar by suggesting that being a mother meant she had a greater stake in the country's future than May.

Sturgeon has said Britain's June vote to leave the EU, dragging Scotland with it, has shifted the debate dramatically just two years after Scots voted by 10 percentage points to reject independence.

On Friday she announced the SNP would send out thousands of its faithful to measure the appetite for a fresh vote on independence.

In the extract from the book "Scottish National Party Leaders", Sturgeon, whose husband is the SNP's chief executive, says she does not know whether she would have become first minister if she had not had the miscarriage.

"I'd like to think yes, because I could have shown that having a child wasn't a barrier to all of this, but in truth I don't know," she said.

"Having a baby might have so fundamentally changed our lives that things would have taken a different path, but if somebody gave me the choice now to turn back the clock 20 years and say you can choose to start to think about this much earlier and have children, I'd take that. But if the price of that was not doing what I've gone on to do, I wouldn't accept that, no."

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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