Reverend Can Challenge Police On Failure To Prosecute
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 1, 2003
CHESTER, ENGLAND--The Reverend Joanna Jepson won the right Monday to take legal action against local police for failing to prosecute doctors who performed a late-term abortion of a fetus with a cleft palate.
The High Court ruled that the Church of England clergywoman can take action against West Mercia Police Chief Constable Paul West for not bringing criminal charges against the doctors after they failed to follow British law in the 2001 late-term abortion. The mother had requested the procedure after learning the child would have a deformed mouth.
In the United Kingdom, late-term abortions -- those taking place after the 24th week of pregnancy -- can be performed legally if the fetus has "a serious handicap".
Jepson, who herself was born with a deformed jaw, argued that a facial deformity such as a cleft palate does not fit that definition.
The Anglican minister told reporters after Monday's hearing that both she and her brother, who has Down syndrome, "live positive and fulfilling lives."
"The baby in this case did not have this opportunity, despite the availability of excellent and routine medical help. The benefits of this surgery would have been positive for both the child and family," she said.
"I hope we shall succeed at trial and recognize once again the value and dignity of our common humanity, disabled or able-bodied, no matter what we look like."
Related opinion piece:
"Joanna fights for us all" (The Telegraph)