VICE World News
Japanese Women No Longer Need Spousal Consent for Abortions – If They Were Abused
“It’s an example of a young woman who didn’t know what resources were available to her for this unwanted pregnancy,” she told VICE World News. “Even if we have funding and organizations that support women, if the information doesn’t get to them, there’s no point.”
In Japan, most reasons for terminating pregnancies are allowed, including when a woman feels she’s unable to financially support her child. But unlike other G7 nations, Japan still requires married women to get consent from their spouses before seeking abortion.
Nakajima said asking a woman to submit such spousal consent inhibits her freedom of choice. She welcomes current efforts—led by activists and lawmakers—to change that law, but she said the lack of support for single pregnant women was more troubling.
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In her over 16 years as the director of Shimodaira clinic, Nakajima said she’s had a number of women in similar situations to Kitai’s, asking for abortions. “Past 21 weeks and 6 days, I have to turn them away. It’s difficult to do sometimes, but as a medical practitioner, I have to observe the law,” she said.
But to make sure these women knew what their options were, Nakajima said she provides them with the contact information of non-governmental organizations that provide financial assistance to single mothers, as well as adoption agencies they could explore.
“It’s very difficult to be a single mother in Japan. That’s why I think if the law prevents these women from aborting their infants after a certain time, there should be adequate social systems that support them. They shouldn’t be alone,” she said.