Joining other countries that have recognized the parental rights of couples using artificial reproductive technologies in recent years, Japan’s Diet (its national legislature) has passed a law recognizing that married couples who conceive children through donated sperm or eggs should have the same parental rights as biological parents.
The new legislation provides that the woman who gives birth to a child using a donated egg is the legal parent of the child, not the biological contributor (egg donor.) In addition, it also provides that the male spouse of the woman who gives birth using donated eggs is the child’s father, assuming he consented to her using donated eggs.
The law, effectively an amendment to existing legislation which dates back more than 100 years, will take effect one year after its passage. Given the age of the current law, it is not surprising that the century-old law does not specifically encompass children born through artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. However, as the use of these types of technologies has grown over the last several years, it became clear that there were legal uncertainties in the way the current law was written.
Importantly, the new law as written seems designed to preserve the anonymity of egg and sperm donors, as it does not give the children born from donated genetic materials the right to seek disclosure about their biological contributors’ identities. This has been classified as an important omission, criticized by groups representing egg- and sperm donors.
While the new law does not address the commercialization of eggs or sperm or commercial surrogacy services, the Japanese legislature says these issues will be addressed in further legislation in the coming years.
The Surrogacy Law Center works to protect the legal rights of intended parents who want to start or expand their families through assisted reproduction. To learn more, contact us today!