Thank you for giving a voice to teenage mothers ("Promiscuous scroungers or loving parents?", 24 January). I, like thousands of young parents in the 1960s, lost my only child to adoption because I was too vulnerable at this point in my life to protect her. From that moment on, my life lost its purpose, and I have since spoken with countless other natural mothers of adopted people who have suffered the same, who despite their intelligence and abilities have never achieved their potential because of the unconscious acknowledgement that, whatever they do, it will not repair this huge loss. I now know that I would have been a good mother, and that respectable, married adoptive parents is no guarantee of good parenting, or that an adopted person will be brought up with security and kindness.
Natural Parents Support Group
The single teenage mum gets my vote. She gets pregnant, chooses not to terminate but to have and care for her child, and take on all the unavoidable challenges that that entails. Where's Dad?
I agree with Janet Street-Porter that politicians are spineless in their policies on the sale of alcohol ("Only a price rise will stop Britain's booze culture", 24 January). But I disagree that the sale of cheap booze is "depriving young women of their dignity". Young women deprive young women of their dignity. If they insist, against medical advice, on downing units of alcohol that would put a pirate to shame, there will be consequences. In a society that takes the blame out of the hands of those who abuse substances and puts it back into the hands of the substance itself, peer pressure or media influence, it is no surprise that these young women pee in the street or have unprotected sex with a stranger and blame the drink, not themselves. It is not the price of booze that is the problem, but our culture of diminished responsibility.
If the Iraq inquiry is to have any credibility, it also needs to bring before it members of Her Majesty's Opposition at the time. We know that Admiral Lord Boyce [formerly chief of the defence staff] has revealed that he set the Government an ultimatum, demanding an "unequivocal" assurance that the invasion would be legal. But we don't know what Iain Duncan Smith – a former officer in the Scots Guards, then leader of the Opposition – obtained from his legal advisers, and what he thought of the weapons of mass destruction "intelligence". The late Robin Cook's resignation speech showed that the Opposition had plenty of areas where they could have taken an anti-war position, and voted _accordingly.
John A Bailey
Seaford, East Sussex
By electing Labour with such a majority, we chose Tony Blair to make important decisions ("'Good faith' isn't usually good enough", 24 January). If the Prime Minister had merely consulted someone else on whether to go to war in Iraq and followed their advice, would he not have ceased to become the leader of our country? And to argue that he took a decision this big without considering the views of others, and the consequences of his decision, is ludicrous.
It is wise to remember that "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it", and consider Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement.
To argue that the short-term damage of "discouraging" social services staff and making them harder to recruit and retain is a price worth paying is appalling ("Fearless talk saves lives", 24 January). The very children you seek to protect may well be the victims of such a policy.
Lancashire was a "failing" social care authority when I became cabinet member for social services in 2001. We tackled the issues by being frank and open through the mechanisms of local government, not the press or Parliament. That we were successful is a matter of public record. What Doncaster needs to do is not publish the full report into the case of the Edlington boys, but set out how they will tackle the points in the summary, then publish regular public reports. This will empower local people without discouraging hardworking staff .
AN Wilson's article on the jailing of Frances Inglis for the mercy killing of her son is balanced. My dilemma is that, on rare occasions, a patient whom doctors say cannot recover from a vegetative state does exactly that ("Mercy killing is not a crime...", 24 January). But if my wife or child were in the same situation, I hope I would have the courage of Frances Inglis. If it is felt by those who love a person, in conjunction with medical knowledge, that there is virtually no chance of recovery, then surely it is merciful, and right, to end that life.
Anthony D Baynes
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