Care Disability Forced Sterilization Hokkaido Japan

Mainichi Shimbun Editorial: Probe must shed light on sterilization of couples with disabilities in Japan

For disabled people, who cannot do without daily life support, it is difficult to refuse the wishes of the facility looking after them. Depopulation has advanced in areas where group homes are located, and the facilities people can use are limited.

From The Mainichi

December 30 2022

It has come to light that eight intellectually disabled couples who wanted to get married or live together were sterilized at a group home in Hokkaido.

The sterilizations are said to have begun more than 20 years ago. The director of the social welfare corporation that runs the facility stressed that the matter had been discussed with the individuals involved and their families, and that there had been “no coercion at all.”

The facility says it pointed out that it was difficult for disabled couples to raise children, proposed sterilization and obtained consent for the procedure. Even if the couples had expressed a desire to have children, they would have been told the facility couldn’t support them, the director said.

Sterilization places a heavy burden on the body. If the couples were pressured to consent to the procedure it is problematic.

For disabled people, who cannot do without daily life support, it is difficult to refuse the wishes of the facility looking after them. Depopulation has advanced in areas where group homes are located, and the facilities people can use are limited.

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government has launched an investigation into the social welfare corporation under the act on comprehensive support for people with disabilities. It is poised to question the parties involved, their families and facility workers.

What kind of response was taken and were the explanations and discussions carried out with care? There is a need to uncover the actual state of affairs.

Certainly, there is no structure in place to support the upbringing of children born to people with disabilities. To begin with, group homes are for adults, and it is not envisaged that children they give birth to will live with them. Some leave the facilities and raise their children with the support of helpers. But this is difficult without dedicated cooperation from private organizations and others around them. A public support system is urgently needed.

It is a guaranteed right for all people to decide for themselves whether or not they want to have children. “Reproductive rights,” as such rights are known, have been recognized across the world as a basic human right.

In Japan, it had remained possible to forcibly sterilize people under the Eugenic Protection Act whose provisions remained in place until 1996.

There is a deep-rooted trend to view romance and sex among people with disabilities as a taboo subject. In the past, schools for people with disabilities that had engaged in sex education were berated.

We must create a society in which anyone can give birth and raise children with peace of mind. There is a need to raise awareness on coexistence.

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