Aborting Abortion - A Look at Singapore Abortions
54 countries allow abortion, which is about 61 percent of the world population. In 2006, one out of four, or 12,000 babies were aborted.
Whenever the word abortion was mentioned, if a reaction was expected from me, disappointment would find its way to the expectant faces. I never degraded the choice of abortion or saw the act of killing a foetus unethical. However, most people would think otherwise regarding the matter of having abortions in Singapore.
During GP lessons in college my classmates questioned me mercilessly on my stand on the ethics on abortion; I sat through countless abortion videos, each time savouring a Mars bar; graphic images of abortion were slipped into my notebook by friends who thought I needed to see the real thing but nothing could change my mind and perspective on abortion.
It was not something I supported but it was not something I protested against, as well.
This was the case until a few months back when a friend who works in the medical industry was having a casual chat with me and somehow, the topic of the alarming rate of rising numbers for adoption crept into our conversation.
That set me thinking. Are people sleeping around without a care in the world because the solution of abortion is always a ready measure to turn to should things go wrong?
54 countries allow abortion, which is about 61 percent of the world population. Only 97 countries, about 39 percent of the population, have abortion laws that make it illegal according to the pro-abortion Centre for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York.
In 2006, one out of four, or 12,000 babies were aborted. What is more disturbing is that these terminations of pregnancies were not mostly limited to teenagers or unmarried women.
A study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the National University of Singapore in 2002 reported that up to 75 per cent of women who went for abortions in Singaporewere married.
Back to basics
The practice of abortion dates back to ancient times. Abortion was carried out by a number of ways such as administration of abortion inducing herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and such. Laws preventing abortion have risen throughout different periods of time.
In the 18th–19th centuries various doctors, clerics, and social reformers successfully pushed for an all-out ban on abortion. In the 20th century various women’s rights groups, doctors and social reformers successfully repealed abortion bans.
Abortions in Singapore: The Procedures Used Today
Abortions in Singapore come under 2 main types of abortion procedures, depending on the gestation of the pregnancy. For early pregnancies 3 months (12 weeks) and below, vacuum aspiration is used. This usually involves being put to sleep for about 10 minutes, during which time a small tube is placed into the womb via the vagina. An attached vacuum will then remove all the pregnancy contents of the womb.
For pregnancies 3 to 6 months (13 to 24 weeks), the procedure is known as Mid Trimester Pregnancy Termination (MTPT) which is more complicated. Hospitalisation is usually required for a day or two, during which medicine is inserted into the vagina to induce natural expulsion of the pregnancy.
After the foetus and placenta are aborted, the process of evacuation of the womb follows. This is basically the same procedure as used in vacuum aspiration; it ensures that the womb contents have been thoroughly evacuated.
The second method takes a little longer and is messier, so it is far preferable that an early decision for abortion be made, before 3 months if possible. Abortion is not allowed if a pregnancy has progressed beyond 24 weeks. The legal limit of termination of pregnancy in Singapore is 6 months, or 24 weeks, beyond which abortion of any pregnancy is illegal.
Most doctors would not initiate abortion beyond 23 weeks as the abortion has to be completed by 24 weeks. The only exception to this rule would be a severe or lethal foetal abnormality but even then, special approval would have to be sought from the authorities before the procedure can be done.
The cost of the surgery itself in Singapore ranges from S$300 to S$2,000. The large disparity is due to variations in the type of theatre employed, the depth of anaesthesia applied and in the package inclusions. For MTPT, the hospitalisation and medication charges must also be taken into account. An accredited abortion centre should be contacted for an in-depth discussion.
Anyone 16 and above is allowed to have abortions in Singapore. Perhaps this part of the law should be revised? To a kid waiting for her O’levels result, the knowledge that the law allows her to terminate her pregnancy without her parents’ consent almost appears to be an incentive for her to go ahead and make merry with her boyfriend.
However, what is most troubling is 75% of the women who had an abortions in Singapore were married. With the silent crisis Singapore is facing on the lack of births, this is something that has to be looked into.
If this was the case in 2002 with married couples, then the numbers are bound to rise as we are smothered by the economy crisis currently.
If I had to take a stand on abortion, it would one that does not condone it unless it’s a situation that has no other solution. When precautions, such as the Pill or abstinence, are around, what seems to be the reason? Ultimately, which ever way you look at it, abortion is the prevention of life.
And who knows, that “kid” who wasn’t given the chance to be, could have been the next Lee Kuan Yew, Barrack Obama or even Mahatma Gandhi.