– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th October 2022.
The First Minister will know that next week is baby loss awareness week. Baby Loss Retreat, which is a fantastic charity in my region, helps people who have lost babies. I recently opened its charity shop in Airdrie. Heather Denham of East Kilbride works for that charity after being helped by it; she is in the public gallery today. Heather has an eight-year-old son but has lost three other children. In April last year, she went for her 20-week scan and learned that her baby daughter had no heartbeat. Heather had to give birth to little Jorgia and lay her to rest a few days later.
Because Jorgia was born at less than 24 weeks, she has no birth certificate. Heather told me:
“One of my children has a birth certificate, the other does not. My daughter does not exist in the eyes of the law and it breaks my heart every single day. I have held two children in my arms, so they should both exist in the eyes of the law.”
The United Kingdom Government has launched a new initiative that will provide parents with a pregnancy loss certificate if their baby is born before 24 weeks. Will the First Minister ensure that the same happens here?
I will. Baby loss awareness week is a very important event every year and it is one that I always mark personally as well as in my role as First Minister, for very personal reasons. I absolutely understand the feelings and sentiments that have been narrated here today.
I know from personal experience how awful it is to lose a baby very early on, and I know how deep the desire is to have that lost baby recognised in a variety of ways. I think that the suggestion around pregnancy loss certificates is an important one and I give the undertaking that we will look very seriously at that in Scotland too.