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Unintended consequences when world governments got involved in sex policies

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In the US and in other countries, organizations that provide abortions also typically advocate for making contraception cheaply and easily accessible. Post-World War II Japan did not take this approach.

Read more: A quarter of straight men and women under 40 in Japan are still virgins, and the number seems to be rising

During its post-WWII occupation by US forces, Japan legalized abortion in the late 1940s before many other industrialized countries. But it took another 50 years before the country legalized birth control pills in 1999. Some of the biggest opponents to legalizing oral contraception in Japan were abortion doctors who worried that widespread use of the pill would reduce the number of abortions they perform, which could threaten their livelihoods.

“While in most other countries abortion was still illegal when the pill came on the market, in Japan abortion was legalized before oral contraceptives were invented,” wrote Tiana Norgen, a scholar who has researched abortion politics in Japan. “This unusual circumstance led to the creation of groups with a vested interest in abortion, and these groups viewed the pill as a threat to their established practices.”

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