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Can U.S. Politicians Learn from Tweet that 'Outed' Infertility?

Canadian politics got controversial over the last few days when a politician's fertility was questioned on Twitter. The posting came from a Progressive Conservative staffer who asked why Alberta Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith's was childless and said her promises made to families were "insincere." Smith is a front-runner in Alberta's election campaign and is running against the current Premier, Alison Redford.

The tweet, posted on Friday night, March 30, has been removed, but reportedly it said: "If ElectDanielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn't she have children of her own? #wrp family pack = insincere." The tweet referred to the Wildrose Party's three-part pledge to Alberta families.

The Progressive Conservative party is a Canadian political party with a center-right stance on economic issues and a centrist stance on social issues. The Alberta Wildrose Alliance is a conservative provincial political party in Alberta, Canada.

On Saturday morning, Smith responded with a statement about her experience with infertility: "When David and I married in 2006 we intended to have children together. After a few years we sought help from the Calgary Regional Fertility Clinic. I appreciated the support and assistance of the caring staff as we went through tests and treatments, but in the end we were not successful."

Smith said family was very important to her and she considered this to be a very personal matter that would not comment on further.

Redford called Smith to apologize. She said the experience had resonated with her personally because she was close to people who had gone through the same situation. The staffer who posted the tweet, Amanda Wilkie, was a volunteer on the Progressive Conservative election campaign team and an executive assistant in the Premier's Calgary office. Wilkie has since resigned.

The two political opponents handled the situation with much leadership and grace. Smith tweeted that she appreciated Redford's sincerity and accepted her apology. In a bulletin Redford's party sent out, they urged supporters to avoid "mean or nasty" comments on Twitter.

It's difficult to imagine American politicians handling a situation with the same kind of thoughtfulness in today's political climate, but maybe they can learn from the example of these two impressive women.