• Kyodo

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Officials at a home for the mentally disabled here forced a resident who was six months pregnant to take a childbirth-inducing drug in 1991 in an attempt to abort the fetus, a former employee of the home said.

The employee told Kyodo News on Sunday that the woman gave birth to a living boy who died under mysterious circumstances soon after birth. The employee said the death was officially registered as a stillbirth.

The home, which was not identified, is run by the head of a national organization of parents of mentally disabled children.

The 76-year-old head, who was not named, told Kyodo News that there was a woman at the home who became pregnant, but denied the allegations that early delivery was forced.

The Maternity Protection Law, known as the Eugenic Protection Law until it was revised in 1996, bans abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Lawyers investigating the case said those responsible for the care of the woman may be charged with murder or abandonment resulting in death.

The former employee, whose identity was withheld, said the woman, who was in her early 20s, was only moderately disabled and able to work.

She was given the childbirth-inducing drug at a Sendai maternity clinic at the request of officials of the home in January 1991 after a doctor told them it was difficult to perform abortions after four months of pregnancy, the employee said.

According to the lawyers, relatives of the woman who witnessed the birth said the boy was moving his hands and legs after he was delivered. They allegedly said they do not know how he died.

“The (drug) was used for the purpose of aborting the fetus, and the boy may have been mistreated,” the former employee alleged. “I believe there were several other illegal abortions at the home.”

A nonprofit organization for the mentally disabled said it has sent the home a letter with questions on the case.

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