Consider complementary measures to pre-abortion counselling


Charis Seow

Published: 10:47 PM, December 9, 2014
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I refer to the letters, “Pre-abortion counselling should be holistic, affirming” (Dec 8) and “Provide support, comfort to all women mulling over abortion” (Dec 6).

The proposal by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to extend pre-abortion counselling to all women seeking an abortion here should indeed be applauded.

In tandem with this, it would be meaningful if the Government could consider introducing greater measures to provide single mothers, especially those who become one inadvertently, with a stronger safety net and support system.

Health care is not restricted to operative procedures and pharmaceuticals. Delivery of holistic care includes counselling and other types of treatment that address a patient’s psychological, environmental and spiritual needs.

Perhaps, the MOH can consider implementing complementary measures to ensure that the effectiveness of pre-abortion counselling will not be diminished and to make pregnant women more aware of viable alternatives to abortion.

First, the MOH can invest in the training of counsellors and specialists.

It can collaborate with other relevant ministries or non-governmental organisations to train counsellors who would specialise in this area of pregnancy and motherhood, to meet the demands of an increased number of women qualifying for pre-abortion counselling.

These counsellors would be well-placed as a single point of access for pregnant women to obtain advice about the gestational age of the unborn child, as well as information on foetal development and the risks of abortion, including the physical and mental effects.

Moreover, the counselling sessions can function as a one-stop referral system to direct pregnant women to available resources, for example, family service centres, single-parent agencies, women’s shelters and adoption agencies.

Second, the Government could consider enacting strict safeguards to ensure the counsellors are independent parties who have the welfare and best interests of the pregnant woman at heart.

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