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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 20:47 GMT
Curate takes action over late abortion
Joanne Jepson as a child
Joanne Jepson was born with a jaw defect herself
A cleric is taking legal action against West Mercia Police after they failed to investigate doctors who carried out what she claims was an unlawful abortion.

Reverend Joanne Jepson began legal proceedings against the force after they failed to take action over 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.

The curate of St Michael's Church in Chester also wants a High Court ruling that a cleft palate is not a serious handicap.

We need to resist the belief that the value of human life lies in physical perfection
Reverend Joanna Jepson

Miss Jepson, who made her first complaint over the abortion when she was a student at Cambridge in 2002, said: "I want to see a clarification of the law so that abortions do not take place for trivial reasons and so that discrimination against the disabled does not become widely accepted.

"We need to resist the belief that the value of human life lies in physical perfection and have a wider understanding of disabilities so that disability is not seen purely in negative terms."

The initial application for a judicial review was rejected by a High Court judge last month but the application will be renewed on 1 December.

Paul West, Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary, said: "We fully appreciate the concerns which have been raised by the Reverend Joanna Jepson.

"However, when the matter was referred to West Mercia Constabulary for investigation we sought the best possible medical and legal advice and acted in accordance with that advice."

He added that it would be inappropriate to comment further while judicial proceedings were ongoing.

A spokeswoman for Hereford Hospitals NHS Trust declined to comment.

Curate challenges late abortion
14 Nov 03  |  Hereford/Worcs


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