Japan law forcing women to get husband’s consent for abortion condemned

·2-min read
Japan has some of the most restrictive abortion laws among rich nations in the world (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Japan has some of the most restrictive abortion laws among rich nations in the world (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Japan’s law which forces married women to gain consent from their husbands to have an abortion has been fiercely condemned by human rights campaigners.

The country has some of the most restrictive abortion laws among rich nations in the world - with Japan being one of just 11 nations which necessitates third-party permission for a pregnancy termination.

A senior official at Japan’s health ministry said it would at long last give the green light to an abortion pill made by British pharmaceutical firm Linepharma International, which is a form of medical abortion, back in May. However, he stirred controversy when he said women would still have to get their partner’s permission to have an abortion.

A medical abortion involves taking two pills, while a surgical abortion involves a medical procedure under general or local anaesthetic.

Kana Doi, the Japan director of Human Rights Watch, has hit out at the laws as she warned they infringe international legislation.

”Japan’s government should be embarrassed to still be imposing a requirement for spousal consent to abortion and should remove this requirement immediately,” she told The Independent.

“The spousal consent requirement violates women’s rights under international law and will push some women into seeking clandestine abortions when they cannot obtain required permission.

“Only one person should decide whether or not a woman can have an abortion - the woman herself.”

Medical abortions were permitted in the UK in 1991 and in America in 2000 - with UK government data showing 14 per cent of abortions in the UK were medical in 2002, while 87 per cent of abortions were medically induced in 2021.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination and the World Health Organisation have urged Japan to overhaul its abortion laws.

The law in Japan does include some exceptions for when a women needn’t get her partner’s permission to have an abortion - such as when she has been a victim of rape or if a pregnancy termination would pose a risk to her health.

Japan, which has been judged to have the poorest gender equality among the G7 countries, only permitted contraceptive pills as recently as 1999.