By Barrier Free Japan
January 31 2021
On December 4 2020, the ‘Bill on Special Provisions to the Civil Code regarding legal parent-child relationships of children born through Assisted Reproductive Technology’, was passed by both the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives in the Japanese Diet, thus becoming law.
The bill is intended to clarify the legal status of the parent-child relationships for couples whom have had fertility treatment and used assisted reproductive technology to give birth. Babies born through egg or sperm donations would legally be the children of the birth mother.
The bill states that the woman who gave birth to the child is legally the mother in cases when the egg was donated by a third person. The bill also asserts that if a baby is born using sperm from a third person, the mother’s husband is the father, if he agreed to the use of the sperm.
However, some disability rights groups have highlighted issues with the bill, as it requires the child to be in ‘good physical and mental health’. The concern of these disability groups specifically relates to Article 3, clause 4 of the bill, which states:
“The children who are born through Assisted Reproductive Technology shall be given consideration to be born and foster with a sound manner mentally and physically.”
Katsunori Fujii, a representative of the Japan Council on Disability held a press conference November 27th 2020 on the bill. Fujii feels the bill allows for the possibility of a ‘eugenic policy’ and creates a ‘sense of crisis’ for people with disabilities.
Midori Hirano, Chairman of the Disabled People International Japan, stated after the passing of the bill that:
“It could link to the eugenics philosophy that deny the existence of persons with disabilities, which says it is no meaning if we are not being in a sound manner mentally and physically.”