(Tokyo) The abortion pill will become available in Japan, after its authorization Friday by the Ministry of Health.

Abortion has been legal in Japan since 1948, up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, but usually requires the consent of the spouse or partner and the surgical procedure was until now the only option.

In a notification to the health sector on Friday, the ministry announced that it had approved the pill from British laboratory Linepharma.

The laboratory had filed in December 2021 in Japan an application for authorization of its abortion pill, a treatment combining two drugs: mifepristone (or RU 486) which makes it possible to stop the development of pregnancy by acting on a hormone called progesterone and the misoprostol, taken one to two days later, which triggers contractions and bleeding.

This method is authorized in many countries including the United States since 2000 and France since 1988.

Its approval in Japan to terminate a pregnancy up to nine weeks follows the advice of a ministerial committee after lengthy discussions.

According to public broadcaster NHK, the total cost of the abortion pill and a medical consultation will be around 100,000 yen (about $1,000). Termination of pregnancy is not reimbursed by health insurance.

Mifepristone has just been at the heart of a legal battle in the United States. The Supreme Court decided on April 21 to maintain access to the abortion pill for the time being.

Meanwhile, activists in Japan are also campaigning for greater access to the morning after pill which prevents pregnancy.

Currently, it cannot be purchased without a doctor’s approval, is not covered by health insurance, and is the only drug that must be taken in front of a pharmacist to avoid the black market.