Campaign on fertility issues criticised; organisers say they are raising awareness

Campaign on fertility issues criticised; organisers say they are raising awareness
The campaign in question at a MRT station. Photo: Fezhah Maznan/Facebook
Published: 4:15 AM, February 4, 2016
Updated: 12:14 PM, February 4, 2016

SINGAPORE – A new campaign to raise awareness on fertility issues has drawn flak from some social media users and AWARE, which has criticised it as “distasteful and intrusive badgering”.

However, I Love Children (ILC), the group behind the campaign, said it is presenting facts and hopes to encourage people to have children earlier, as well as to raise awareness of the risks associated with late pregnancies.

ILC is a voluntary welfare organisation that advocates early parenthood among couples.

Since the start of this month, advertisements have been put up at MRT stations, featuring cartoon sperm and eggs, along with slogans providing information on fertility.

In a Facebook post made yesterday, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) called the campaign “scare-mongering”, and added that it might have an emotional impact on people who have experienced pregnancy loss or infertility.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, AWARE said: “Some people want to have children, some do not, some only want them later in life — all choices are equally valid, so we disagree with the basic premise of I Love Children, which according to its website ‘believes ... that all married couples should take the bold plunge into parenthood’.”

Some netizens have described the campaign as “offensive and distasteful”, while others have called it “patronising and condescending towards all women”.

Defending the campaign, ILC president Joni Ong pointed out that it included facts the group has been highlighting to the public for the past five years.

She added: “We’re not here to scare people, we’re just here to spread the message only because we are ourselves parents, and we ourselves really enjoy our children and we want to encourage everyone to also enjoy children.”

Ms Ong added that she had gone through assisted fertility treatment herself, and experienced “the pain that comes with trying to have a baby and not having one”.

She said the ILC recognises that having children is a very personal decision. “There will be those out there who say ‘I don’t want to have children’. We respect that. But we are only speaking to those who feel that they’re not sure, they’re sitting on the fence, and we’re saying ‘we hope we can encourage you to think otherwise’,” Ms Ong added.