JAPAN – Study finds that 8% of abortion decisions linked to consequences of Covid-19

Some 8% of pregnant women in Japan who had an abortion in October and November 2020 are believed to have decided to end their pregnancy due to reasons linked to the coronavirus pandemic, a Health Ministry study group found in April 2021. Many of the women cited financial reasons, such as a drop in their partner’s incomes.

The national survey by the study group analysed the reasons behind approximately 2,000 women’s decisions to terminate their pregnancy, which were obtained by doctors and other medical personnel at 178 medical institutions that provided abortions between 15 October and 14 November 2020.

The women were asked to give up to three reasons for choosing an abortion: 87 cited their partner’s income had declined or job loss, 74 cited their own income had dropped or unemployment, and 42 said they were afraid of contracting the virus during pregnancy.

According to the survey results, of the 1,965 pregnant women who had an abortion, 152 (7.7%) said their decisions were affected by the spread of Covid-19. Some 46 of the 152 women were in the 25–29 age group, followed by 35 in the age group 20–24 and 30 in the age group 30–34.

No cases of abortion linked to pregnancies arising from domestic violence were reported, despite heightened risks while the government’s stay-at-home requests were operating due to the pandemic.

Lastly, the article reported that the study group said the women “could have chosen to continue with their pregnancy if they had the economic resources”. But surely this is wishful thinking. They might as well have said: “…if only there wasn’t a pandemic”.

The study group also reportedly said: “Since the coronavirus tends to have a greater impact on people with lower incomes, it is necessary to take steps to support these women, such as improving consulting systems and providing financial assistance.” But we might ask: why isn’t this assistance available to people with low incomes all the time?

The valuable information this study group found is subverted by an apparent unwillingness to support the abortion decisions women made, all of which were out of necessity, reasonable, realistic and in their families’ best interests.

SOURCE: Japan Times, 27 April 2021 with PHOTO by Getty Images