They come to give birth secretly and leave without leaving their baby

If getting unmarried and getting pregnant is never easy, this double whammy can be absolutely humiliating in the land of the rising sun.

Japanese society despises single mothers, often depriving them of full-time jobs and even opportunities Accommodation rent. When their daughter becomes pregnant without getting married, the parents are so embarrassed that they sometimes cut her off. And obviously, abortion is not a conceivable possibility: in this country, women still have to get their spouse’s contract. Completely impossible for single women or victims of domestic violence.

So most of them carry their pregnancies for a long time. But in extreme cases, frustration pushes someone to do unthinkable things: abandoning their children, or worse.

In 2019, a doctor refused to abort a young woman. He has Her baby suffocates in the toilet at Tokyo airport. In May, a 29-year-old woman was arrested for abandoning her newborn baby in the toilet bowl of a love hotel, her umbilical cord still attached to her tiny body.

These traumatic events, which have been headlined for years, inspired gynecologist Takeshi Hasuda to create the first and only service in Japan that allows those who have had unwanted pregnancies to give birth secretly and adopt their babies. In May, the doctor welcomed her second child, born to an anonymous mother.

“This woman told us that if she had not had the opportunity to give birth anonymously, she would probably have committed suicide with the baby,” she told VICE.

“In order to protect and preserve the life of the child, we keep the names of the birth mothers secret” – Takeshi Hasuda, Gynecologist at GKE Hospital

Hasuda is the chief gynecologist at GKE Hospital in Kumamoto Prefecture, southern Japan. In 2007, the hospital established one of the country’s first “baby boxes” (“kontori no uricago” in Japanese, meaning “stork’s cradle”), an airlock that allows women to deposit their babies anonymously.

In 2018, the press reported the story of a 25-year-old Japanese woman who gave birth in a cafe and killed her newborn baby. This tragedy prompted Hasuda to take her idea a little further: a year later, she also gave mothers the opportunity to give birth anonymously at her hospital so that they would not risk giving birth alone at home.

Patients who opt for confidential delivery have no medical costs and are only asked to share their names and identities with a staff member. Their newborns are placed on the adoption agency.

“In order to protect and preserve the life of the child, we keep the identity of the birth mothers secret,” Hasuda said.

Hasuda was inspired by the German X-ray delivery method, which also allows womenGive birth anonymously in a medical environment. Healthcare professionals have praised the system for saving lives Helping women in crisis And those who do not have access to traditional support systems. But unlike Germany, the Japanese service is not governed by a legal framework, which raises concerns about its future.

Women’s rights advocates in Japan say Dr. Hasuda’s services are only needed because the country has one of the most limited abortion policies in the developed economy.

Women are actually allowed to have an abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy and have to get it too Consent of his wife, Making Japan one of the 11 countries that still need such approval Although victims of domestic violence are exempt from this rule, doctors know how to embarrass pregnant women who cannot. Get their husband’s approval for abortion.

“We need appropriate legislation to put an end to infanticide and women giving birth alone without medical assistance – which is what I’m working on,” he said. That’s itA Japanese politician who has called on the government to legalize secret births.

“Since I didn’t have much money and I couldn’t give him a good life, I really thought about adopting my son” – Hanako, single mother

Hanako, a 39-year-old single mother who asked to be identified only by her first name, told us that she must have considered using Hasuda’s secret birth method if she was pregnant with her son five years ago.

She said she was afraid to tell her parents and was ashamed that she was expecting a child. She had to convince them that she had to raise him alone, since her partner had left her after she became pregnant. They were together for seven years. Hanako also feared financial problems: with a single income of about 3 2,300 (1 2,150) per month, he thought he did not have enough money to raise his child. The average family income in Japan was approx $ 3,600 (3,350 euros) per month.

“Since I did not have much money and could not give him a good life, I really thought about adopting my son. I wanted her happiness to come before anything else, “he told Vice.

The stigma of being a single parent also frightens her and that weight follows Hanako to give birth. “At the hospital, nurses keep asking me what kind of person my partner is or what he did to make a living. They bombarded me with questions, “he said.

“They looked at me as if I were a curiosity,” he added.

According to Dr. Hasuda, people like Hanako are just the kind of patients who can benefit from an anonymous birth at her hospital, where she also provides traditional maternity and pediatric care.

At least eight women have been contacted about the confidential delivery that Hasuda offers. Not all are victims of abuse or intellectual disabilities and have not seen how they can raise a child, the gynecologist explained.

“Even before they got pregnant, they were already facing the extreme hardships that very few people would face in their lifetime,” she said. “To them, they don’t think they have a choice – the only thing they can do is give birth anonymously.”

“This may sound like a good arrangement, but what these women really need is postpartum support” – Kanako Inaba, Gynecologist

But the lack of postpartum support for anonymous women in Japan has raised eyebrows for some doctors. “It may seem like a good arrangement, but what these women really need is postpartum support. And instead, they leave without even naming them, “said Kanako Inaba, a gynecologist and mother of four.

“Women who have just given birth need physical examination, proper nutrition and emotional support for postpartum depression to help their bodies recover,” she added. “But if they do not have access to this help after leaving the hospital, they run the risk of finding themselves in a similar situation, such as having an unwanted pregnancy and no other option.”

Lack of legal framework can also cause problems for the child.

Generally, when a baby is born in Japan, the hospital must provide a birth certificate along with a registration form with the name of the biological parent. The only system for certifying a person’s parents and Japanese nationality is for parents to submit this information to the government in order to add the child to the national family registry.

And of course, the Japanese government does not accept statements without the mother’s name. For her patients, Hasuda has successfully persuaded local authorities to accept blank birth documents, but according to such anonymous birth laws, child protection centers across the country should report to those who will begin an investigation to find the biological mother.

“From the point of view of the biological mother, it was not promised to her. He was supposed to make sure he did not reveal his name, but instead the government is not trying to find out who his relatives are, “Hasuda protested. Respecting the women’s desire to remain anonymous, she said she would not report births.

Hasudar’s first child, delivered through a confidential birthing system, was born in December and a baby stays at home. The hospital has not yet decided whether the child will be kept in a foster family or in an orphanage.

In response to Hasudar’s advocacy for a legal framework, the Japanese government said in May that it was drafting New guidelines What to do with babies born under confidential birth system. Dr Hasuda said he was working with officials to expedite the process.

Although Hasuda acknowledges that she has not yet found a way to ensure that the children will be sent to the appropriate facility without compromising the identity of the birth mother, she feels that her proposal meets an important need.

“Being born alone at home can be extremely dangerous for these women, which is why we offer this service,” she said.

Hanako, now the mother of a 5-year-old boy, told her parents about her pregnancy a few months before the birth. She is happy and grateful for the life she spends with her son in Hiroshima, Japan. When he is not at work or behind the stove, they go to the park or sit down to draw. Her son likes to write portraits of his mother with his colored pencils.

Despite these wonderful times, she feels that Japan still has a long way to go to support single mothers. “Owners immediately disqualify me when they find out I’m a single mother, or worse, a single mother with a baby,” she quipped. “It would be better if we were treated as normal without being strange. A

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