Pre-abortion counselling should be holistic, affirming
Pre-abortion counselling is based on the ethical and legal doctrine of informed consent.
It was introduced in 1986 to “ensure that the woman fully understands the implications of abortion”, so that she can “make a critical decision after examining all the options open to her”, the then Acting Health Minister Yeo Cheow Tong explained in Parliament.
At the same time, that all people have intrinsic dignity is a foundation principle.
All are entitled to be respected and treated equally, irrespective not only of race, sex, nationality and social status, but also of age, size, location, stage of development and condition of dependency.
Thus, like Focus on the Family Singapore, I support the Ministry of Health’s intention to remove criteria that discriminate on the basis of citizenship, education and family size. (“Provide support, comfort to all women mulling over abortion”; Dec 6)
Beyond extending pre-abortion counselling to all women considering abortion, though, efforts should also be made to address the underlying reasons for most abortions, given that the majority are socio-economic in nature.
Health Ministry data show that 39 per cent of those who had abortions last year were unwed, divorced or widowed.
The second and third most common reasons were that the women had enough children (28 per cent) or were not ready to start a family (11 per cent).
Pre-abortion counselling should inform the pregnant woman of her rights and those of her child under Singapore law. Counsellors should present alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.
Where possible, counsellors should also encourage the woman to involve her partner or husband in the counselling process. In the long run, more effort should be made to ensure that men take responsibility for the children they father.