Japan Makes It Very Hard to Be Sterilized. These Women Demand Change.

In Japan, the process of getting sterilized is not only difficult but also highly restricted, particularly for women. The country’s strict laws and societal norms around family and reproduction have made it nearly impossible for women to make the decision to undergo sterilization, even if they are certain they do not want children.

Sterilization, also known as tubal ligation or vasectomy, is a permanent form of birth control that prevents pregnancy by blocking the fallopian tubes or vas deferens. In Japan, the procedure is heavily regulated under the Maternal Health Act, which requires women to obtain the consent of their spouse in order to be sterilized. This law, which dates back to 1948, reflects Japan’s traditional views on gender roles and family dynamics, where women are expected to prioritize their role as wives and mothers above all else.

For many women in Japan, the requirement to obtain spousal consent for sterilization is not only outdated and discriminatory, but also a major barrier to their reproductive autonomy. In a society where women are often expected to prioritize their husband’s desires and opinions over their own, the decision to undergo sterilization can be met with resistance and judgment from both spouses and medical professionals.

In recent years, a growing number of women in Japan have been speaking out against the restrictive laws and societal pressures that make it difficult for them to be sterilized. The “My Body, My Choice” movement, led by activist group Voice Up Japan, is calling for the removal of the spousal consent requirement and greater access to sterilization for women who are certain they do not want children.

The movement has gained momentum in recent years, with women sharing their personal stories and demanding change from the government and medical community. Many women have spoken out about the challenges they have faced in trying to obtain sterilization, including being denied the procedure by doctors who believe they are too young or may regret their decision in the future.

In response to the growing pressure from activists and advocates, the Japanese government has started to take steps towards reforming the laws around sterilization. In 2020, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced that it would review the spousal consent requirement and consider allowing women to undergo sterilization without the consent of their spouse.

While this is a positive step forward, many activists believe that more needs to be done to ensure that women in Japan have the right to make decisions about their own bodies without interference from others. The “My Body, My Choice” movement continues to push for greater access to sterilization and reproductive autonomy for all women in Japan.

In a country where traditional gender roles and societal expectations often limit women’s choices and opportunities, the fight for reproductive autonomy and bodily autonomy is an important one. Women in Japan are demanding change, and it is time for the government and medical community to listen to their voices and take action to ensure that all women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.