Last summer, news that Japan was getting ready to introduce a new type of prenatal examination that requires only a simple blood test to detect whether a fetus has Down syndrome made headlines. News reports suggested hospitals were ready to start using the test in September.

But the controversial procedure immediately drew strong criticism that it could lead to "easy" abortions and discrimination against those with Down syndrome.

To prevent criticism of the new test from spinning out of control, the health minister at the time, Yoko Komiyama, said the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology should first establish ground rules. Now, more than six months later, the JSOG plans to adopt a set of guidelines later this month.