The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology will soon be allowing unmarried couples to receive in vitro fertilization treatments if they want to. Consequently, in light of this news, the government is also expected to give couples government subsidy for this kind of treatment, regardless of their marital status.
The relaxation of rules for unmarried couples is due to the revision of the Civil Code just last December, deleting an article that was found to be discriminatory against children who were born from parents that are not married. The executive board of the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology then approved the in vitro for unmarried couples and the decision is expected to be finalized this June during their plenary convention.
Previously, only legally married couples can avail of the treatment when it was first adopted in 1983, when the first Japanese child was conceived using in vitro. Doctors in Japan voluntarily follow these rules, including the transplantation of fertilized eggs. Because of the Civil Code article regarding children born out of wedlock receiving just half of the inheritance than those born to married couples, the society set the existing rule to follow this line of thinking.
However, a Supreme Court ruling last September said that this article in the code is unconstitutional, citing diversity in family forms and also reflecting Japanese society’s changing opinions and public awareness about this sort of family issue. The Civil Code was then revised months later to reflect the fact that both children born to married couples and those born out of wedlock should receive equal shares in a family’s inheritance.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will also be reviewing whether or not a couple can receive subsidy for these in vitro treatments, which normally costs around ¥300,000 to ¥400,000 (approx. US$2,900 – $3,800) per treatment. They are not usually covered by insurance, and so the government provides for a maximum of ¥150,000 ($1,450) for one treatment, with the costs being split by the central and municipal government.
[ via Yomiuri ]