The issue of abortion has been contentious in Japan, where the procedure has been legal since 1949, but only under specific conditions. Until now, the only option for women seeking an abortion in Japan has been a surgical procedure, and consent from a spouse or partner was usually required for the procedure to be performed.
In recent years, there has been growing pressure from women’s rights groups and activists to make the abortion pill available in Japan. It provides a less invasive and more accessible option for terminating early-stage pregnancies.
As per The Guardian, the Japanese government has approved the abortion pill, making it available for the first time in the country. The health ministry announced on Friday that it had approved a drug made by British pharmaceutical company Linepharma, which uses a two-step treatment of mifepristone and misoprostol to terminate early-stage pregnancies.
Abortion has been legal in Japan for up to 22 weeks, but until now, women seeking to terminate a pregnancy have only the option of a surgical procedure. Consent from a spouse or partner was also typically required for the procedure.Linepharma’s product was filed for approval in Japan in December 2021 and has now been approved by the health ministry following a panel endorsement that was postponed for a month due to thousands of public submissions.
The abortion pill is already available in many other countries, including France and the United States, where it has been available since 1988 and 2000. The cost of the abortion pill and medical consultation in Japan is expected to be around 100,000 yen (£585), as abortions are not covered by public health insurance. In comparison, surgical abortions can cost between 100,000 yen and 200,000 yen.
The approval of the abortion pill has been welcomed by many women’s rights activists in Japan. However, campaigners are still pushing for better access to the morning-after pill, which cannot be bought in Japan without a doctor’s approval. Additionally, it is the only medicine that must be taken before a pharmacist to prevent it from being sold on the black market.
The use of mifepristone has recently been at the center of a high-profile court battle in the United States. The Supreme Court has temporarily preserved access to the widely-used abortion drug, freezing rulings by lower courts that would have banned or severely restricted its availability.
In conclusion, Japan’s approval of the abortion pill marks a significant milestone in the country’s reproductive health policies. The decision to allow the use of this two-step treatment to terminate pregnancies up to nine weeks provides women with a safe and effective alternative to surgical procedures, which were previously the only option.
This move is likely to have positive implications for women’s reproductive rights and could help to reduce the stigma surrounding abortion in Japan. However, it remains to be seen how the new regulations will be implemented and whether access to the pill will be widely available. Nonetheless, this decision is a step in the right direction toward promoting women’s health and autonomy in Japan.