Japan is expected to approve abortion pills later this year, although “spouse consent” is required to receive a prescription.
Linepharma International, a British pharmaceutical company specializing in women’s sexual and reproductive health, asked for approval of their abortion pill in December 2021. The drug combines two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, and is currently used in more than 70 other countries.
For surgical abortions, the written consent of the woman’s partner is already required under the Japanese Maternal Protection Law of 1948. A senior health ministry official, Hashimoto Yasuhiro, told a parliamentary committee earlier this month that the consent of the partner is necessary, even if the abortion is performed orally.
Activists in Japan are demanding that health authorities change the rule, arguing it violates women’s reproductive rights. A founding member of Action for Safe Abortion Japan, Tsukahara Kumi, said obtaining written consent from a partner can become a problem when a woman is forced into childbirth against her will by a spouse.
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“For women to be forced into a pregnancy they don’t want is violence and a form of torture,” Tsukahara said, according to The Guardian.
A Social Democratic Party lawmaker, Fukushima Mizuho, has raised concerns about the potential price of the pill and fears it will be more expensive than in other countries.
“It’s weird to require a spouse’s approval to take a pill,” Fukushima said during a parliamentary hearing. “Is Japan still living in the Middle Ages?
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Many activists argue that Japan’s failure to approve abortion pills, which are already available in more than 70 countries, indicates the country’s lack of priority in women’s health. While oral contraceptives took around 40 years to be approved in the country, the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra took just six months to be approved.
Feature image via Pexels
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