A CHESTER cleric is going to the High Court in a bid to stop "abortions for trivial reasons".
Joanna Jepson, a curate at St Michael's Church, launched legal proceedings after discovering a termination had been given over the legal 24 week limit because the unborn child had a cleft palate.
Rev Jepson claims doctors should not have performed the abortion and fears women are choosing to end pregnancies late on cosmetic grounds.
She said: "We are on a slippery slope to aborting babies for trivial reasons. We are in a situation where an unborn child may have a finger missing or a club foot and the pregnancy is being terminated. I think that is a very dangerous precedent.
"I want to change that. Babies are losing their life because they are not physically perfect and that is something that needs to be changed."
Rev Jepson, 27, studied at Cambridge, worked as a barmaid and was a youth worker for teenagers with drug and alcohol problems before she entered the church.
After examining national abortion statistics she discovered a termination had been granted because an unborn child had a cleft palate and contacted West Mercia Police.
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She launched legal action after they failed to investigate. Her initial application for a judicial review was rejected by the High Court but an appeal hearing has been set for December 1.
The case is a personal as well as ethical battle for the curate, who was born with a jaw deformity, which was corrected with surgery. She also has a brother with Down's Syndrome.
She added: "Under the law women have a right to chose to have an abortion up to 24 weeks.
"I object to that law being broken. The problem is until the point the parents discover the child may be handicapped it is a wanted child.
"What we should be doing in society is challenging the view that people with disabilities are not worthwhile people."
But her comments have infuriated health professionals.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "I'm shocked that someone who regards themselves as a caring Christian would be so lacking in compassion and understanding for the woman who terminated her pregnancy in those circumstances.
A cleft palate can be an indication of serious genetic problems, not just a cosmetic imperfection."
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BISHOP IN ROW OVER DEMOLITION PLANS >>>
BISHOP IN ROW OVER DEMOLITION PLANS
THE Bishop of Shrewsbury has come under fire over plans to demolish a 134-year-old church.
Campaigners fear the dark-stone Victorian Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church will face the bulldozers unless it can be saved.
The church on St Mary's Street, Latchford, near Warrington, was built in 1869 and has become a local landmark for generations of people.
The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Rev Brian Noble, who lives in Heswall, Wirral, looks set to order the tearing down of the church.
But Charles Smith, of the Victorian Society, described the building is an "architectural gem" and is urging action to save the building.
He said: "We are extremely anxious about the future of this church - it is a magnificent structure.
"Clearly it is a marvellous example of Victorian architecture and is beautifully furnished inside.
"The church is an architectural gem and is well loved by local residents - even people who don't attend church like the building.
"We would urge the church to find an alternative use for the building or sell it to someone who can turn it into something useful for the local community.".
A spokesman for the Bishop of Shrewsbury said a decline in mass attendance and disrepair of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Augustines meant plans were being formulated for a new church to be built nearby to accommodate both former parishes.
He said: "The diocese of Shrewsbury, after lengthy and prolonged consultation with the Warrington parishioners, has agreed a way forward for the Catholic community. A new church is our aim."