Infertility warning left Jess Phillips ‘tainted with guilt’

A warning that she may be infertile left MP Jess Phillips “tainted with guilt”, she has revealed.

The Labour politician discussed her diagnosis with HPV and subsequently being told she may not be able to have children which “fundamentally made me feel less of a woman if I were to be perfectly honest”.

Speaking to Ruth Davidson on LBC Radio, Ms Phillips said the experiences were “tainted with guilt.

“Because it was like it was my fault that I had done something because I had HPV,” she explained.

The MP, who has two sons with her husband, went on: “There was always this sense that it was somehow my fault that I could have avoided this, and so I did this to myself.

“That is really, really awful to feel that way about yourself, but that every woman who cannot have a child or who can, and then struggles the second time, there is so much emotion put on us and expectation of us as human beings being linked to that one ability of one of our organs.”

Ruth Davidson (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Ruth Davidson (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In her conversation with the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ms Phillips also discussed women in high-powered political positions.

Referencing her “embarrassment” that the Labour Party has not yet had a female leader, Ms Phillips discussed her theory “that women who rise to the top in the Conservative Party don’t threaten the status quo, and where power lies in the country”.

“You may be the only person who bucks the trend of my theory,” she told Ms Davidson, “certainly Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May don’t buck it.

“They will not diminish the power base.”

Ms Phillips went on: “The reason Labour women don’t rise to the top so easily is because I think they would genuinely threaten the status quo and the people that get to decide that get nervous.”

Ms Davidson quit the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives in August 2019, and now leads the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament.

To hear the full interview, tune into An Inconvenient Ruth, 9pm tonight on LBC.