Following Associate Professor Tan Seow Hon’s commentary, Time Again to Review Abortion Laws, we hope the government would consider the following:
- Make parental consent mandatory for those under 21 years of age
- Maintain mandatory counselling for all cases (not just for women with fewer than three children)
- Maintain law for statutory rape cases
- Discontinue public funding for abortions unless the foetus or unborn baby has no heartbeat or the life of the mother is dangerously threatened
We are proposing these changes in view of the current Termination of Pregnancy Act, which allows teenagers between 14 and 16 years to have an abortion without their parents’ consent. Mandatory counselling at the Health Promotion Board is enforced and is strictly confidential; no one, including the girl’s parents, will be informed. To undergo the procedure with only her consent, she must be above 16 years. For teenagers less than 14 years, medical confidentiality is not enforced and the case is reported to the police and her parents as it is considered statutory rape. Abortion procedures are claimable under the Medisave scheme, up to $1,050.
The reasons for abortion are varied, and often include facing a hard-pressed situation like having to continue one’s studies, especially among teenage pregnancies, or a lack of resources. Most of these women feel the only choice they have is to abort their unborn baby.
However, the untold realities are such that after an abortion, as many as 60% of these women (based on studies in the US) experience some level of psychological or emotional distress. Abortion commonly leads to significant mood disorders that can trigger attempts of self-harm. Many of these women also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which include symptoms like dreams or flashbacks of the abortion, difficulty sleeping and a general sense of desensitization. Another study found that first-trimester abortions can be highly distressing for both men and women and had negative impacts on their marital relationship.
Apart from reviewing the laws, we hope the government can lend a hand to heighten the awareness of the impact of abortion on the mother, her family and the future of this nation.
Mr Lim Yu Ming
Focus on the Family Singapore