Century Marks

Retrospective challenge: Joanna Jepson, an Anglican priest in Britain, is legally challenging an abortion that took place in 2001. The fetus, which had a cleft palate, was beyond the legal limit of 24 weeks. However, abortions are allowed in Britain beyond 24 weeks if there is a substantial risk of severe handicap. Jepson, who herself had a cleft palate that was corrected with surgery when she was a teenager, argues that this abortion was for a mild disability and was without merit. She thinks it raises the disturbing specter of eugenics. But abortion rights activists and some in the medical field are troubled by Jepson’s case, saying that British law allows doctors and families to make decisions about aborting fetuses with disabilities, and that third parties shouldn’t have the right to challenge decisions after the fact (Christian Science Monitor, December 17).


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