11 NOVEMBER 1932, Page 14


SIR,—Mr. Emrys Hughes, in his letter to the Spectator of October 29th, demands with some asperity why the woman with five children by a drunken husband was not admitted to the clinic in time for an abortion, and if what Major Yeats- Brown describes is typical of Moscow. I will only attempt to answer the first question ; the second Mr. Hughes would not have asked had he remained in Russia longer than three weeks.

The woman could get no order for the abortion because she was unemployed. She lost her job when she became pregnant. She was working as a hod-carrier and the building trust doctor certified that she was too weak for hard physical labour. The clinic's charge for an abortion is from 32 rubles upwards for a member of a trade union. This woman earned 60 rubles a month. She had to have an order from her place of employment, but the building trust would not give her one because she was not working there any longer. The trade union would not do anything because she was listed as a temporary worker. The house committee refused to help her because she was on the point of being evicted for non-payment of rent. I wrote to the Institute for the Care of Mother and Child.

At the fourth month, she was called up for examination at the clinic on the Bolshoy Bronny. Her documents were still not in order, so the clinic refused to operate. She was finally admitted to the hospital in her •sixth month of preg- nancy. By that time a major operation (a Russian pro- fessional term) was necessary. The hospitals have no anaesthetics. In this case the doctors decided that it would be too dangerous to operate with only a local narcotic, so they sent her home : Major Yeats-Brown told the rest.

I think that Mr. Hughes is quite right in taking his position as a guest of the Soviet Government seriously and adhering only, to the unbiassed version of the State interpreters. But I think that he flatters me when he insinuates that my inter- preting during a half-hour's conversation coloured Major Yeats-Brown'i views on Soviet Russia.—I am, Sir, &c., The Penn Club, Tavistock Square. RuEA G. CLYSIAN.