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Japan Expected to Allow Medication Abortions, But There’s a Catch

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Japan’s anticipated approval of medication abortion pills may come with a requirement for women to get approval from their partner before obtaining the drugs from a doctor.


Bloomberg reported that the country is considering an application from the pharmaceutical company Linepharma International to provide medication meant to terminate pregnancies. Medication abortion consists of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The former prevents the pregnancy from developing and the latter expels the pregnancy from the woman.

“In principle we believe that spousal consent is necessary, even if an abortion is induced by an oral medication,” Yasuhiro Hashimoto, director of Japan’s health ministry’s Child and Family Policy Bureau, said at a parliamentary committee this week, Bloomberg noted. 

Only surgical abortions are available in Japan with a partner’s consent required, with few exceptions. Reportedly, 140,000 surgical abortions were carried out in the country in 2020. Procedures are not covered by health insurance and can generally occur up to 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This year, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, which once operated as Planned Parenthood’s research arm, reported that medication abortions now account for more than half of abortions in the United States. After the United State Supreme Court’s draft opinion leak overturning Roe v. Wade, several states are working towards enacting laws protecting the unborn or creating legislation expanding abortion access. 

Townhall reported after the SCOTUS leak that abortion pill providers are preparing for an influx of patients if Roe is overturned. When Texas enacted a “heartbeat” abortion law last year, several neighboring states reported a surge in out-of-state patients. Abortion pill providers, like Aid Access, reported a spike in orders.


After Texas’ heartbeat abortion law took effect, South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order that prohibited “telemedicine” abortions. This would not allow women in the state to obtain medication abortion pills without visiting a doctor in-person.

In an interview with Fox News, Noem said that abortion-inducing medication must be provided in-person by a doctor licensed in the state.

“What this [EO 2021-12] would do would be requiring, in the state of South Dakota, that an abortion would only legally be allowed in the situations defined by our statute,” Noem explained in the interview. “But also, after an in-person examination by a doctor, licensed in South Dakota.” 

“Everybody knows that I’m pro-life and do not support any kind of abortions,” Noem said in the interview. “But, here what the Biden administration is doing is trying to put forward abortion on demand. And we’re going to stop them and make sure that that’s not available in our state.”

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