At the Back Stage of Prenatal Care: Japanese Ob-Gyns Negotiating Prenatal Diagnosis

Abstract

In this article, I explore the reluctance of Japanese ob-gyns to discuss prenatal diagnosis (PND) tests with pregnant women. The analysis focuses on the culturally specific ways in which ob-gyns formulate their cautiousness and criticism toward PND while invoking a local moral economy. Analyzing ob-gyns’ accounts, I show how the ambiguities of PND are constituted in a specific moment in Japanese culture, history, disability politics, and national reproductive policies and are formulated through local paradigms of thinking about pregnant women, their fetuses, and the process of becoming a person in Japanese society. Finally, I show how PND in Japan is pushed to a “back-stage” realm in which the diagnosis for fetal anomalies is practiced in secrecy.