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Priest challenges late abortion

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LONDON, England -- A female curate has won the chance to take the police to court over its refusal to prosecute doctors who, she says, carried out an "unlawful" late abortion for ostensibly cosmetic reasons.

The Reverend Joanna Jepson, who herself underwent corrective surgery on a congenital jaw defect as a teenager, was given permission to challenge the police after going to the High Court in London, Monday.

The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is reported to have had the abortion because she did not want a baby born with a cleft palate. She was more than 24 weeks pregnant -- the legal limit for abortions unless a risk of serious disability is diagnosed.

Rev. Jepson, curate of St Michael's Church in Chester, mid England, believes the abortion should not have been allowed because a cleft palate is not a serious handicap.

She told the BBC that terminating the pregnancy simply because of a cleft palate was an "outrageous" decision that must be challenged.

"It is a case of unlawful killing," the 27-year-old added. "And like any unlawful killing it is only right that the person responsible is brought to account for it."

"To class a cleft palate as a severe handicap is outrageous."

She asked Lord Justice Rose and Mr Justice Jackson to open the way for legal action against Paul West, chief constable of West Mercia Police, over his decision not to bring charges.

The judges said in their ruling that the case raised "serious issues" and that there were "arguable points to be considered."

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

The chief constable was quoted by the UK's Press Association as saying: "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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