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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 20:54 GMT
Curate challenges late abortion
Joanne Jepson as a child
Joanne Jepson was born with a jaw defect herself
A cleric is challenging a police decision to take no action against doctors who carried out what she claims was an unlawful abortion.

Reverend Joanne Jepson is seeking a legal review of West Mercia Police's failure to investigate the case of the termination of an unborn child which had a cleft palate, after the normal 24-week limit.

Miss Jepson, who was herself born with a jaw deformity, which was corrected with surgery, claims a cleft palate is not a sufficient reason for a late termination to be carried out.

She said: "West Mercia Police investigated the abortion of a baby with a cleft palate and decided it was perfectly legal within the legal remit.

'Physical perfection'

"However, the law stipulates that abortions after 24-weeks have to be for a major handicap.

I just find it reprehensible to think that we could lose our lives for something which is only about physical perfection
Joanne Jepson

"I don't think many people would consider a cleft palate to be a major handicap."

The churchwoman - whose 25-year-old brother Alistair has Downs Syndrome, a condition sometimes used as a reason for carrying out late abortions - said the police had failed to take any action against the Hereford doctors who carried out the termination.

She said: "I just find it reprehensible to think that we could lose our lives for something which is only about physical perfection."

West Mercia Police said their decision had been based on medical advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.


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