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Reverend Takes Personally A Late-Term Abortion Based On Cleft Palate
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 20, 2003

CHESTER, ENGLAND--A Church of England minister is taking legal action against local police for failing to prosecute a doctor who performed a late-term abortion of a fetus with a cleft palate.

"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," said the Reverend Joanna Jepson who argues that Chief Constable Paul West should have charged the doctor for performing an illegal abortion.

The case is very personal for Jepson, 27, who as a teenager underwent corrective surgery on her own jaw.

"If they follow the argument through, they are saying there are reasons why I should not have been allowed to live," the Anglican minister told The Times. "It is absolutely offensive."

"We bend over backwards not to discriminate (against people with disabilities) in society, yet when it comes to the unborn we are seeing a level of eugenics in action," continued Jepson, who has a brother with Down syndrome.

Jepson said she was horrified to hear about the woman that had an abortion after learning that her unborn child had a cleft palate. The procedure took place more than 24 weeks into her pregnancy, which is the legal limit in the United Kingdom unless there is a risk of "serious handicap". Jepson is calling for a legal ruling that a cleft palate does not qualify as a serious handicap.

"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."

Jepson's initial application for a judicial review was rejected by a High Court judge last month, but the application is scheduled to be renewed on December 1.

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