Debating human rights and prenatal testing in Japan

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Disability in Japan is often conflated with the problems of an ageing society, but the disability identity is not one merely associated with the ageing process. As diagnostic science inches our understanding of disability further and further back into ever earlier stages of the individual s life course, the disability identity can be taken on at the very earliest ages. The use of prenatal testing has an impact on our understanding of disability because prenatal testing and selective abortion challenges our views of disability by asking bluntly, Is this life worth living? This article analyses the literature on prenatal screening in Japan by comparing and contrasting its findings with autoethnographic vignettes. The literature presents a complex juxtaposition between law, technology, culture and personal values where two parties claim human rights primacy: the person with a disability and the reproductive woman. The positions of various stakeholders - the medical profession, activist groups, families and individual mothers - demonstrate that prenatal testing poses ethical questions regarding disability and human rights. This analysis also demonstrates the importance of communication at all stages of the process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWays of Knowing about Human Rights in Asia
EditorsVera Mackie
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Pages27 - 42
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781138838253
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this

Stevens, C. S. (2015). Debating human rights and prenatal testing in Japan. In V. Mackie (Ed.), Ways of Knowing about Human Rights in Asia (pp. 27 - 42). Routledge.