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Abortion in Japan is only allowed under a term limit of 22 weeks if a continued pregnancy or birth will lead to the endangerment to the health of the pregnant woman or economic hardship.Chapter XXIX of the Penal Code of Japan makes abortion de jure illegal in the country.
Exceptions to the prohibition of abortion are regulated by the Maternal Health Protection Law that allows approved doctors to practice abortion on a woman with the consent of her spouse needed if she is married, if the pregnancy was the result of rape or if the continuation of the pregnancy endangers the maternal health because of physical or economic reasons.
Anyone trying to practice abortion without the consent of the woman will be prosecuted, including the doctors.
No abortifacient has been approved in Japan. Approved doctors, however, can choose to use imported abortifacient under the same Maternal Health Protection Law. Any other person who aborts a fetus using abortifacients will be punished.
Overall, in 2019, the total number of abortions officially reported was 156,430, representing a 56 percent decrease from the number reported for 2000. The overall abortion rate changed from 22.3 to 15.3 abortions per 1,000 live births over the same period.
Going further back, there were 598,084 abortions in 1980 and 1,063,256 in 1960. In 2019, 49 abortions were reported for women aged 13 and under, and a further 3,904 for women aged 14–17. Some 39,805 abortions were performed on women aged 20-24.
According to researchers, in more than 99 percent of cases, the reason reported for performing an abortion was to protect the woman’s health; this percentage remained constant during 1975–1995.
The same researchers also suggest that while official figures may be lower than the true rate of abortion due to under-reporting by doctors in order to lower tax bills and protect patient identities, trends may be “reasonably accurate”.
[Consulenti Medici / Specialisti / Scienziati]