Letter: Parliament must rule on birth ethics

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Sir: Was Rosalind Miles really serious when she stated that "even after four, six or eight children a mother does not have the experience of a junior houseman in his first week on an `obs and gynae' ward"? ("The mother of all battlefields", 20 February.)

I was a junior house officer in obstetrics and gynaecology for six months and I have rarely felt so embarrassed and uncomfortable as when a mother struggling in a labour in which I was supposedly assisting asked, "How many children do you have, doctor?". I may have known the dose of pain relief if she were to require it: I could only try to imagine what she was experiencing.

A good obstetrician or GP will always respect and listen to the woman's experience. Rosalind Miles' concern that we should be careful not to "rubbish the knowledge bank of those who deliver babies all day every day" is misplaced. She and others should be careful not to rubbish the instinctual and irreplaceable knowledge bank of mothers.

Dr LESLEY MORRISON, MRCGP, DRCOG

London N19

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