A panel in Japan’s health ministry has approved the country’s first abortion pill, in a major step for reproductive rights decades after other countries made abortion medication widely available. The ministry’s pharmaceutical board granted approval to the MeFeego Pack, an abortion pill manufactured by British pharmaceutical Linepharma, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
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Overview of the news
- The medication consists of two types of pill, and can be used within nine weeks of pregnancy, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. In a clinical trial in Japan, 93% of participants had a complete abortion within 24 hours. The medication combines mifepristone and misoprostol, which the World Health Organization has included in its Essential Medicines List, described as safe and effective for pregnant people.
- It would provide an alternative to a surgical procedure amid calls for progress in women’s reproductive rights and gender equality. In Japan, abortions have been usually performed with metal instruments. As this procedure is invasive, medical experts and others are calling for introduction of abortion pills in Japan.
- Under Japan’s existing laws, women can only receive an abortion if a pregnancy “may significantly damage the person’s physical health due to bodily or economic reasons” or if they became pregnant due to rape.
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