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Doctors escape prosecution for late abortions
Two doctors involved in the late abortion on a foetus with a cleft lip and palate will not face criminal charges, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.A police inquiry into the case was reopened following a judicial review sought by the Rev Joanna Jepson, 28, who grew up with a facial deformity and has a brother with Down's syndrome.
Her lawyers argued that an abortion could never be justified under the 1967 Abortion Act on the basis that a cleft lip and palate were a "serious handicap".
But West Mercia CPS said today that it was satisfied that the doctors involved had acted in good faith and there would be no prosecution.
Miss Jepson, the curate of St Michael's Church in Chester, won permission in December 2003 to challenge the refusal of police to bring charges against doctors involved in the abortion.
But Jim England, the chief crown prosecutor for West Mercia CPS, today said that the doctors who authorised the termination had decided that there was a "substantial risk" that the child would be "seriously handicapped" if it were born.
"This complaint has been investigated most thoroughly by the police and the CPS has considered a great deal of evidence before reaching its decision," Mr England said.
He added that the evidence considered by the CPS included medical records, guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, evidence from a number of professionals involved in the care and interviews with the two doctors.
"We took all these matters into account when reaching our decision that there was no offence committed in the circumstances of this case," Mr England said.