By Barrier Free Japan
January 11 2022
JAPAN – The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology decided Sunday 9th January to start pre-implantation screening of eggs fertilized in vitro for chromosomal abnormalities in April 2022 as part of fertility treatment.
The pre-implantation screening will be carried out at about 100 certified institutions in Japan for couples who meet any of three conditions, including two or more miscarriages, and the Japanese government will start public health insurance coverage for fertility treatment in April, including in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination.
This announcement follows a statement made by The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology in June 2021, that it planned to “to expand the scope of severe genetic diseases that are detected through pre-implantation testing performed on fertilized eggs.”
However, some groups representing people with disabilities in Japan have concerns about ‘pre-implantation testing’ and associated reproductive technologies.
For example, on December 4 2020, the ‘Law on the 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 in Japan.
This law is intended to clarify the legal status of the parent-child relationships for couples who 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.
This law also states that a woman who gives birth to the child is legally the mother in cases even when the egg was donated by a third person. The law 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 highlighted issues with the law, as the law requires the child to be in ‘good physical and mental health’. The concerns of these disability groups relates specifically to Article 3, clause 4 of the law, which states:
“The children who are born through Assisted Reproductive Technology shall be given consideration to be born and fostered 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 then proposed ‘Law on Special Provisions to the Civil Code regarding legal parent-child relationships of children born through Assisted Reproductive Technology’, saying that the law allows for the possibility of a ‘eugenic policy’ and creates a ‘sense of crisis’ for people with disabilities.