Curate wins abortion challenge

Church curate Joanna Jepson has won permission to challenge the refusal of police to prosecute doctors who carried out a late abortion on a woman because she did not want a baby with a cleft palate.

The Rev Joanna Jepson, curate of St Michael's Church in Chester, was given the go ahead for a legal action against Paul West, Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, over his decision not to bring charges.

The abortion was carried out when the woman, from Herefordshire, was more than 24 weeks pregnant - the legal limit for abortions unless there is a risk of serious disability.

Ms Jepson believes that a cleft palate is not a serious handicap.

Her initial application for a judicial review was rejected by a judge last month.

But at the High Court in London Lord Justice Rose and Mr Justice Jackson reversed that decision.

Ms Jepson, 27, who as a teenager had corrective surgery on a congenital jaw defect, says the law should not allow abortions for "trivial reasons".

She said recently: "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 Chief Constable said: "We fully appreciate the concerns which have been raised.

"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."

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