Letter: Parliament must rule on birth ethics

Sir: Your report and leading article concerning the judicial review proceedings involving Ms S raise important issues.

However, on behalf of the approved social worker Louize Collins, who is employed by Merton council, I wish to correct some points. It is not correct that the section order made by the social worker was because of Ms S's refusal to accept treatment for pre-eclampsia. Louize Collins made the order under the Mental Health Act because, after lengthy discussion, she judged that Ms S was suffering from a mental disorder which needed further assessment.

Your leading article then states: "If S turns out to have been too seriously ill to give informed consent for medical treatment, then the actions of the courts, doctors and social workers will have been fair enough." The social worker played no part in the decision to carry out the Caesarean. Her involvement ended once the section order for further assessment had been made.

Finally, the leader states that refusing treatment that would save your or your baby's life seems crazy and not the behaviour of a normal mother. You add: "But this evidence is not enough to section a pregnant woman under the Mental Health Act."

You are, of course, correct, and our social worker was entirely aware of this.

Her decision was reached on better evidence than this and I would suggest it is better that we wait for the outcome of the case rather than prejudge the situation.


Director of Housing and Social Services

London Borough of Merton

Morden, Surrey