The first surrogate baby to be born in Japan has been disclosed. This is believed to be the first case of its kind as Japan severely restricts fertility treatments of this type. Surrogacy is not prohibited, but fertility treatments such as IVF are only allowed for married couples after ethical standards were set by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Last December, a Japanese health ministry panel recommended that surrogacy should be banned and are at present drafting legislation which will make it illegal and subject to large fines.
The surrogate mother is the younger sister of the woman who will raise the child. She volunteered because her sister could not have children after a hysterectomy operation following a miscarriage. Dr Yahiro Netsu of the Suwa Maternity Clinic in Nagano state, said 'as a doctor, I should help out when someone volunteers to give birth for a woman who has lost her womb. It is not humane not to do so.' He admitted that he had been involved in four other attempts at surrogacy, all of which had failed.
The sex, name and age of the baby, and the names of the mother and surrogate have not been disclosed in order to protect their privacy, as the birth is likely to cause some controversy. Netsu's clinic only allows unpaid surrogacy to occur between siblings. He argued; 'of course women shouldn't be used as a reproductive tool. I hope the case would prompt a discussion so surrogate births will be allowed under an appropriate framework.'
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First Japan surrogate birth reported