We are deeply concerned to learn that an independent midwife in Dublin has been suspended following complaints by hospital doctors ("Home births suffer Irish setback", 7 September). The charges were made without informing the mothers concerned, who are outraged at the accusations. They and their babies are thriving. To force midwives out of practice under such circumstances is to deny women choice and any control over how they give birth.

Dr Peter Boylan, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, compares home birth to riding a motorcycle without a helmet. "You get away with it for so long," he says. He is wrong. Countries in which midwifery is respected, and where midwives, not doctors, are the usual birth attendants, have lower perinatal mortality rates than those which have done away with midwives.

Obstetricians are not the only professionals. They are specialists in pathology. For them to see a normal birth is an exception. Midwives are professionals, too, and specialists in keeping birth normal. Midwives and obstetricians need to work together to provide optimal care.

We are shocked that the harassment of midwives by the obstetric establishment, familiar in the US, is now threatening midwives in Ireland who dare to work outside the hospital system.

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