- 医学哲学 医学倫理 (ISSN:02896427)
- vol.29, pp.53-62, 2011-09-30 (Released:2018-02-01)
This paper studies a movement in Japan in the 1970s and 1980s for a new adoption system to give women reproductive freedom by providing an alternative to abortion. The study examines why the adoption movement resulted in failure and reveals how concurrent campaigns to restrain abortion influenced this failure. In 1973, Dr. Noboru Kikuta publicly confessed to arranging 100 illegal adoptions using false birth certificates in cases of unwanted pregnancy to protect the mothers and save their fetuses. Subsequently, he started a movement to deny abortion to any woman past her seventh month of pregnancy, when a fetus can survive outside of the womb, and to establish a new adoption system protecting women's privacy in records of childbirth and adoption to provide an alternative to abortion. However, jurists did not embrace the protection of unmarried mothers from stigma and the Special Adoption Law established in 1987 did not reflect Kikuta's proposal. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Kikuta developed his movement, some religious groups and politicians criticized the Eugenic Protection Act, which was enacted in 1948 and allowed abortion within the seventh month. They campaigned to amend the act to prohibit most abortions and include disabled fetuses in eugenic policies instead. However, feminist and disabled people's groups protested against and frustrated the campaigns. As a side effect of this controversy, Kikuta's movement for a new adoption system was seen as being radically pro-life or anti-feminist. Moreover, obstetricians making a living by performing abortion and feminists did not actively support him. Kikuta's new adoption system was a simple proposal to protect fetuses' lives and add to women's choices, but the concurrent anti-abortion campaigns made Kikuta's beliefs and actions seem overly political. Kikuta's failure and the present situation of adoption in Japan are representative of the limitations of women's reproductive freedom in Japan.