22 NOVEMBER 1930, Page 39


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sm,—In reply to Miss Pankhurses letter in your current issue ; it is always a difficult matter to discuss a highly technical subject like midwifery in a lay journal, and I do not propose to go into obstetrical details either of my own or other people's confinements.

Miss Pankhurst, however, can rest assured that I desire for the women of this country as good a medical service for this vital process as I would obtain for myself or any other medical woman.; but the absence of a doctor may result in the birth of a living child, where the too rapid application of forceps by a doctor would have the contrary result.

- I desire, however, to point out to your readers that there is some inconsistency in her view. She insists that the general practitioner should be allowed into the lying-in room so that

he may be able to undertake normal as well as abnormal cases ; but a few paragraphs farther on she states, " I propose placing the maternity service not in the hands of general practitioners, but in those of doctors specializing in such service."

With regard to Huddersfield : in 1928 there were one thousand five hundred and thirty-seven live births and twelve dniths, or a death-rate of 7.8 per thousand live births. The rate for London in 1929 was 3.61.

I think it desirable to distinguish between sane criticism and abuse, and I maintain that in my very moderate review of her work (whose spirit I admire) there is no abuse of any member of the medical profession.

With regard to the administration of anaesthetics in child- birth : the practical details require considerable discussion, but I am doing my best on the L.C.C. to ensure that every woman in labour in the hospitals under the Council's control shall have an anaesthetic if she so desires.I am, Sir, &c., STELLA Cat-Kenai. Strand-on-the-Green House, Chiswick, 1V. 4.