British High Court Rejects DOH Refusal to Explain Abortions Based on Disability

By Dave Andrusko

Rev. Joanna Jepson

As National Right to Life News Today was about to publish for Wednesday, I learned that England’s Department of Health had just lost a High Court battle to keep secret the details of very late abortions performed on babies based on the diagnosis that the child has a “serious” physical or mental abnormality. This so-called “Ground E” of the 1967 Abortion Act is supposed to be the only conditions under which a baby can be aborted after the 24th week—tragically, all the way up to birth!

The Department of Health issued a statement suggesting it might appeal: “The Department will now consider the implications of this judgment and the options available.”  To which Josephine Quintavalle of the ProLife Alliance which brought the case, responded, “The resistance of the Department of Health is extraordinary.”

The victory for transparency and honesty culminated a battle that began a decade ago, and was the direct result of the work of the ProLife Alliance (PLA) and the Rev. Joanna Jepson.

As we discussed earlier this week , everything was going along smoothly for pro-abortionists. The DOH would publish its study of abortions performed under “Ground E” and that would be that.

“But the publication of the figures in 2002 sparked an outcry when it became clear that one termination was carried out on a baby with a cleft lip and palate,” writes the BBC. “Critics argued that a relatively simple surgical procedure can now repair cleft palates, and anti-abortion groups argued the rules were being flouted to weed out ‘less than perfect’ babies.”

The Rev. Joanna Jepson, herself born with a cleft palate, charged that a cleft palate did not meet the definition of being “seriously handicapped,” according to Stephen Adams. “She argued that the doctors had therefore carried out an unlawful killing, but the Crown Prosecution Service declined to prosecute, saying the doctors had acted in good faith.” The Rev. Jepson’s attempts to get legal satisfaction apparently met a dead end and, to add insult to injury, beginning in 2003 the Department of Health stopped publishing detailed information on “Ground E” abortions.

Undeterred the ProLife Alliance in 2005 used the Freedom of Information Act to request the full statistics on abortions for 2003. Then, 18 months ago the “Information Rights Tribunal ruled that the numbers of women who had late abortions because their unborn babies had such conditions should be published,” wrote Adams. The DOH dug its heels in, saying this information was “sensitive, personal, and private” and the case went to the High Court.

I do not yet have details of what the High Court said, just that the decision came down on the side of the ProLife Alliance. Bravo.

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