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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 9 Nov 2008

MOH replies to questions in Parliament on abortion


Parliamentary QA

Question No:  689   Question By:  Mr Christopher de Souza
To ask the Minister for Health whether he will consider the promotion of adoption as a serious alternative to abortion to increase our total fertility rate.
Question No:  690   Question By:  Mr Christopher de Souza
To ask the Minister for Health what would be Singapore’s annual total fertility rate from 2000 to 2007 if (i) no abortions were carried out during those years; and (ii) abortions were only permitted on an unrestricted basis for foetuses up to 12 weeks of age.
Question No:  692   Question By:  Mr Christopher de Souza
To ask the Minister for Health in view of some foetuses being viable before 24 weeks and given that the Abortion Act of 1974 was introduced when curbing population growth was a social priority, whether he will consider amending the legislation to lower the 24-week limit for unrestricted abortions since Singapore now needs to increase her population.
Question No:  725   Question By:  Mr Siew Kum Hong
To ask the Minister for Health whether his Ministry will (i) affirm the fundamental right of women to choose, subject to objective considerations of medical safety, whether to have abortions, which has been accepted in Singapore for the past 4 decades without question; (ii) confirm whether there is reason to change the current prevailing objective medical evaluation of independent foetal viability; and (iii) focus on influencing societal attitudes towards abortion and counselling persons seeking abortions, instead of the 24-week-limit for unrestricted abortions and women's legal right to choose.
Reply from MOH
The Termination of Pregnancy Act was enacted in 1974, to provide for the safe termination of unwanted pregnancies by trained persons in appropriately equipped facilities. It is to safeguard the health and well-being of the woman who has, for various reasons, decided to terminate her pregnancy. This is intended to ensure that all children born in Singapore are wanted children, who will be properly cared for, and will have opportunities to develop to their full potential.
The Act was not introduced to curb population growth. Neither will its restriction or cancellation help to grow the population. It is simplistic to assume that one fewer abortion equals one more baby. Hong Kong and Poland do not allow abortion for social reasons or on demand, but their birth rates are among the lowest in the world, not better than that of Singapore. Among the many countries which legalise abortion on demand, there is a wide range of birth rates. Clearly there are other factors at play which determine the birth rate of a population.
As for the time limit for unrestricted abortion, it is determined on medical grounds, based on the doctors’ assessment of the survivability of the foetus outside the womb.
The Act requires all women contemplating abortion to be counselled. The counsellors will advise the women of the full implications and risks of an abortion, and of the alternatives available.
The issue of abortion is an emotive and divisive one. It has been debated at length and decided in Singapore. The decision respects the different views that some community and religious groups hold on abortion. It is not useful to talk about abortion in absolute terms as there are practical human, medical and social issues involved. It would not be wise to reopen the debate and introduce into Singapore the divisive battles going on in the West, especially in the US.
We will continue with the other efforts in public education, such as sex education to school children and the public, as well as in providing assistance to married couples to have more children.

Source: News 27 Aug 2008

Related Article:
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