In Japan, in this year, we, “Space Allies” are planning to have a meeting on WHO “Safe abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems” , which we are translating into Japanese language and, in this month, are developing campaign decriminalization abortion for UN Universal Periodic Review procedure, in which review on Japan is held in the October.
IN JAPAN, there are three main laws related to abortion, Criminal Law, the Law for Protection of Mothers’ Bodies (before revision, it was called theEugenic Protection Law), and the Maternal and Child Health Law.
Criminal Law was enacted in 1880, and penalises both the pregnant woman and the person who performed an abortion, as a crime of Feticide. Applying this law, many women were imprisoned, especially during wartime.
After World War II, the “Crime of Feticide” remained. Induced abortions were legalised by the Eugenic Protection Law enacted in 1948 under certain conditions. From 1949 the conditions included the following; 1) Eugenic reason, 2) Medico-economic reason, and 3) Rape. In 1996 the Eugenic Protection Law was partially revised. Accordingly it is now called the Law for Protection of Mothers’ Bodies whereby the eugenic reason for abortion was deleted. But to have an abortion, judgment by a doctor and an agreement by male spouse of the pregnant woman are needed, so the women’s right to choose has not yet been guaranteed.
“The Maternal and Child Health Law” locates and protects a woman’s body only as “a function to bear healthy children”.
In Japan, there are two main issues related to abortion. One is how to defend abortion rights in the climate of backlash against gender equality and reproductive rights. The other is how to realise social justice in having an abortion…
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