Tweak abortion laws to match medical advances

SINGAPORE - I was very heartened to read about the general decline in the number of abortions in Singapore, especially among teenagers ("Fewer abortions"; last Wednesday).

The report states that around 4 per cent of women had a change of heart after receiving pre-abortion counselling and chose not to go through with the abortion.

Such a figure, no matter how small, represents the many brave decisions that women make to save precious lives.

For this reason alone, it would be beneficial to make it mandatory for every woman seeking abortion in Singapore to undergo pre-abortion counselling.

Currently, foreigners, rape victims or Singaporeans with three or more children and those who have not passed the Primary School Leaving Examination are excluded from this requirement.

While I applaud the Government's efforts to establish safeguards against those who wish to take advantage of our liberal abortion laws, I hope the Health Ministry will consider making pre-abortion counselling available to all those currently excluded.

Pregnant women seeking an abortion usually face great pressure from external sources, such as socio-economic factors.

The decision to keep a child or abort one should never be made lightly.

These vulnerable women deserve the same standard of care and should be made aware of all the alternatives to abortion.

I strongly support the Health Ministry's initiative to review the Termination of Pregnancy Act. A suggestion to consider is shortening the time limit for abortions, as the current cap of 24 weeks is too high.

With increased medical information about foetal responses to pain starting from as early as eight weeks of gestation, we should consider amending our abortion laws to match scientific discoveries and medical capabilities.

The law undoubtedly plays a large role in shaping the attitudes, practices and expectations of society.

Accordingly, our abortion laws should send a message that couples should not use abortion as a form of birth control.

This change will not only encourage the use of responsible contraception, but also go towards reducing the high levels of promiscuity among our young people.

Joanna Chen (Ms)

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