Letter: Ms S: does the medical profession always know best?

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Sir: Whatever the facts of the Ms S case, the real issue is not about the woman's rights over those of her unborn child, but the woman's right to make decisions about herself and her unborn child, which includes the right to reject the opinion of the medical professions.

Like everyone else, the medical profession goes through fads and fashions and the Caesarean section is one of the latest fads in obstetrics. Recent research shows that probably only around 6 per cent of Caesarean sections are medically necessary and yet in the United States (where litigation is common) up to 25 per cent of babies are born this way. In a survey carried out for her book Caesarean Birth in Britain Professor Wendy Savage asked obstetricians this very question, and 46.8 per cent said that fear of litigation is often a factor in performing sections.

All women know that pregnancy and birth carry risks. Caesarean section carries more risks than vaginal delivery and yet women are undergoing unnecessary operations because they believe that doctors are giving them advice in their own best interest. Ultimately it is the woman who has to live with the consequences of any decisions made, and therefore it should be she who weighs up the risks involved and makes the final decision. For some women this will always be to trust the professionals. Others will chose to trust their own research or even nature. That should be their decision.

ISOBEL VELLA Hadfield, Derbyshire