Seiko Noda, a legislator in Japan’s house of representatives since 1993, has worked on the birthrate issue for years. She’s not an obscure figure, having served in several cabinet positions. But her newest proposal is a little unusual and maybe a bit of a stretch. If we want people to have more babies, she argues in Japan’s most-read newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, the country should just ban abortion.
Noda’s plan makes perfect economic sense, if you assume that no one ever gets an abortion because they are incapable, for financial or other reasons, of raising the child that they would otherwise have. You also have to assume that the costs to society of forcing Japanese mothers to carry unwanted children to term would be outweighed by the benefits, for example because these children might become the responsibility of the state. And, finally, the plan works if you assume that forcing women to carry unwanted children to term would have no negative effects on the economic productivity of the mother, who might be a young student who would have to drop out of either school or the work force or both to have the child.