Abortion pill will soon be available in Japan, marking the first time that the drug will be used to terminate early-stage pregnancy in the country. Although abortion is legal in Japan up to 22 weeks, consent from a partner or spouse is typically required, and until now, surgical procedures have been the only option.
The British pharmaceutical company, Linepharma, has had its two-step treatment, consisting of mifepristone and misoprostol, approved by Japan’s health ministry. The product was filed for approval in December 2021. This medication is already available in many countries, including France and the United States, where it has been available since 1988 and 2000, respectively.
The Japanese government’s endorsement of the pill comes after a one-month postponement due to the submission of thousands of public opinions.
According to the announcement, the pill can be used to terminate pregnancies up to nine weeks. The cost of the abortion pill and medical consultation is estimated to be approximately ¥100,000 ($700), which is comparable to the cost of surgical abortions. Abortions are not currently covered by public health insurance in Japan.
In addition to the approval of the abortion pill, campaigners in Japan are pushing for better access to the morning-after pill, which prevents pregnancy. Currently, emergency contraception cannot be bought in Japan without a doctor’s approval, and it is the only medicine that must be taken in front of a pharmacist to prevent it from being sold on the black market.