Abortion In Singapore: Everything You Need To Know About It

Abortion In Singapore: Everything You Need To Know About It

Abortion in Singapore is legal. But what are the requirements, costs and procedures available?

Getting an abortion* may be the last option for some. But there are women who see it as the only way out of an unwanted pregnancy. You may need to understand a few facts before going for an abortion in Singapore.

Is Abortion Legal in Singapore?

When a pregnancy is unintended or if the mother’s health would be seriously jeopardised if the pregnancy were to continue, termination of pregnancy, also known as abortion, is typically performed.

Getting an abortion in Singapore is legal. However it is available only on request during the first 24 weeks of gestation, that is, the first six months.

Doctors must adhere strictly to government regulations that govern abortion in Singapore. A clinical procedure called an induced abortion is used to end a pregnancy that has already begun.

Only a physician with advanced training in obstetrics and gynaecology may perform it, either in a facility licensed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to carry out abortions or in a clinic.

There may be exceptions when the procedure is necessary to save the life or to prevent permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.

If you or someone you know is considering abortion due to their own personal concerns, it’s important to be informed about the procedure. This is why we’ve made a comprehensive guide to help you be better informed about abortion in Singapore.

Myths and Facts About Abortion

It is crucial to debunk these myths and provide accurate information about abortion to ensure that individuals have access to reliable facts.

Myth: “Abortion is a very dangerous procedure.”

Fact: According to AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research), abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women if performed within the first trimester by a trained professional. The risk of death associated with abortion is low, and the risk of major complications is less than 1 per cent. In fact, giving birth is more dangerous than having an abortion.

Myth: “Women who have had abortions are traumatised.”

Fact: There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that having an abortion is more dangerous to a woman’s long-term mental health compared to delivering and parenting a child she did not intend to have or placing a baby for adoption. Studies demonstrate that the predominant feeling following abortion is one of relief and a reduction in stress. However, it is important to acknowledge that some individuals may experience guilt and sadness after an abortion. Post-abortion counselling services are available to help those who need support.

Myth: “Abortion causes breast cancer.”

Fact: Early studies suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer have been widely discredited. According to the National Cancer Institute, newer and better-designed studies consistently show no association between induced or spontaneous abortions and the risk of breast cancer.

Myth: “Abortion causes infertility.”

Fact: Having an abortion does not usually affect a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant and having normal pregnancies in the future. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK confirms that abortion does not cause infertility.

Statistics About Women Having Abortion in Singapore

Unintended Pregnancy Rate Decline

Between 1990-1994 and 2015-2019, the unintended pregnancy rate in Singapore declined by 56%. This indicates a positive trend towards effective contraception and family planning. (Source: Guttmacher Institute)

Abortion Breakdown

In 2020, the Ministry of Health reported that there were a total number of abortions performed in Singapore, with a breakdown by citizenship not available. (Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore)

Sociodemographic Differences

A study conducted in Singapore aimed to identify the differences in sociodemographic variables and reasons for termination of pregnancy (TOP) between married women and unmarried women seeking abortion. The findings provide insights into the diverse circumstances of women seeking abortions in the country. (Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information)

Historical Abortion Statistics

The abortion ratio in Singapore is measured as abortions per 1000 live births, while the abortion percentage represents abortions as a percentage of pregnancies (excluding fetal deaths/miscarriages). Detailed historical data on abortion statistics in Singapore can be found for further analysis. (Source: Johnston’s Archive)

It is important to note that abortion in Singapore is regulated by strict laws and guidelines, ensuring that it is done safely and ethically. These statistics offer insight into the trends and factors surrounding abortion in Singapore.

Understanding the Termination of Pregnancy Act in Singapore

The Termination of Pregnancy Act in Singapore is a legislative framework that governs abortion practices in the country. Implemented in 1974, it sets clear guidelines for when and how a woman can terminate a pregnancy. The Act stipulates that no person can forcibly compel or intimidate a pregnant woman to undergo an abortion against her will. It requires the woman to sign a declaration stating she has been counselled and mandates a waiting period of at least 48 hours post-counselling before the procedure can be performed.

Abortion Law in Singapore

Abortion In Singapore: Everything You Need To Know About It

Image from iStock

Abortion regulations in Singapore are found in the Termination of Pregnancy Act (TPA). If you meet the requirements listed below, you may legally obtain an abortion in Singapore:

  • You are less than 24 weeks pregnant.
  • Either you or your spouse is a citizen of Singapore.

Only if you meet the following requirements can you get an abortion if you are not a Singaporean:

  • You are married to a Singaporean citizen or have permanent residency.
  • You have spent more than four months in Singapore.
  • Abortions after 24 weeks can only be performed in a public hospital if your life is in danger or your foetus has a severe abnormality.

Singapore requires pre-abortion counselling and a 48-hour waiting period before any abortions can be performed.

How Many Weeks Is Abortion Legal In Singapore?

After 24 weeks (6 months) of pregnancy, abortion is not permitted unless the mother’s life is in danger. (The length of the pregnancy shall be measured from the first day of the pregnant woman’s last regular period to the conclusion of the 24th week.)

The majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester, prior to the 13th week of pregnancy. Abortions during the first trimester are safe medical procedures that can be performed in hospitals or clinics with a small operating theatre (OT). In this stage, abortions can be performed surgically or medically, with surgical abortions being more prevalent.

Abortions may also be performed as early as 14 weeks, though this is less common. In unfortunate situations where the foetus has an abnormality during pregnancy, these second-trimester abortions are typically carried out.

In this situation, the procedure is always carried out in a hospital setting while the mother goes through a shortened labour process in order to deliver the baby. With your attending gynaecologist in Singapore, you will need to discuss these instances of late-stage pregnancy termination separately.

Reasons For Getting An Abortion In Singapore

There are many reasons why a woman would choose to terminate her pregnancy by opting for an abortion. According to some studies these could be:

  • Financial instability
  • Relationship problems
  • Unwillingness to be a single mother
  • Negative impact on the mother’s life
  • Problems with the health of the foetus
  • Husband or partner or parents want her to have an abortion

But whatever the reasons are, it is not an easy decision to make. While there are many reasons why a woman would consider doing so, this does not mean it was a light decision on her part. 

sad asian woman - abortion in Singapore article

Image Source: iStock

Eligibility For Abortion In Singapore

Abortion in Singapore is restricted to citizens of Singapore, wives of Singapore citizens and women that have resided in Singapore for a minimum duration of four months.

According to the Singapore Abortion Act, there is no defined age limit for the procedure of abortion in Singapore. Furthermore, there’s no legal requirement for parental consent for minors under the age of 21.

In other words, just about anyone may request for an abortion, as long as they are of sound mind and body and understand the risks and details of the procedure. As far as legality goes, no consent is required from the husband. Though, you might want to let your husband know if you’re planning on getting an abortion. 

An abortion in Singapore is not allowed if the pregnancy has progressed beyond 24 weeks. Most doctors will not initiate abortion beyond 23 weeks, so it is advised for the woman to make an early decision.

The only exception to this rule is a severe or lethal foetal abnormality. But even in this case, special approval is required from the authorities before the procedure can be carried out.

How To Get An Abortion In Singapore

The first step in getting an abortion is to visit your doctor, who can be either a gynaecologist or a general practitioner (GP).

  1. Mandatory counselling

For all patients requesting abortions, pre-abortion counselling is required before the procedure. After your consultation, your doctor will give you directions to the counselling service.

Counselling is required for girls under 16 at the Health Promotion Board Counseling Center (except for rape victims). Before receiving medical treatment, patients with mental disabilities must have a psychiatrist certify that continuing the pregnancy will be harmful to the mother.

You have the right to get a second opinion if your doctor denies your request for an abortion due to ethical considerations.

Prior to April 17, 2015, it was not required for non-Singaporean women, women with three or more children, women who did not pass the PSLE, and women without a secondary education to receive pre-abortion counselling. However, new regulations make counselling a requirement for all patients.

  1. Waiting time

After the counselling session, there must be a mandatory 48-hour waiting period before the procedure can be performed.

  1. Records

Patients who decide to have a pregnancy terminated must sign a statement about their marital status, level of education, and the number of children they have as of right now. The name of the patient, the date of the procedure, and the method of termination are all recorded in the Ministry of Health’s register of all prenatal treatments.

Following the procedure, patients typically receive post-abortion counselling and may be asked to come back a week later to check for complications.

Some medical professionals may suggest that you refrain from having sex for up to two weeks following your procedure due to the risk of infection.

abortion in Singapore

Very few women seeking abortion in Singapore will change their minds even after counselling.

Abortion in Singapore: Pre-abortion

The Singapore Abortion Law act also requires that the woman undergoes brief counselling by a qualified abortion counsellor at any accredited abortion clinic. She is also required to watch a video on the subject.

Girls under the age of 16 years have to undergo mandatory counselling at the Health Promotion Board.

There is also a compulsory waiting period of 48 hours after the counselling before the procedure can be done. So, that means you will have to visit your doctor twice – once for the scan to confirm the pregnancy and counselling, and the second visit is two days later, to undergo the termination.

However, according to a news report, very few women who are seeking an abortion in Singapore will change their minds even after being counselled. The Health Promotion Board reports that for the past five years, less than five per cent of those who are counselled will actually keep their baby.

How Much Is Abortion In Singapore

Under the Termination of Pregnancy Act in Singapore, for abortion in Singapore, only an authorised gynaecologist in an approved institution can carry out the procedure.

Depending on gestation, abortions in Singapore can cost between $750 and $3000, with prices varying between public hospitals and private clinics. 

Type of care and its cost

Public Hospital (1-2 weeks waiting time): $750 – $1500

Private Clinic (1-2 days waiting time): $1000 – $3000

These expenses comprise:

  • Consultations with doctors and follow-ups
  • Medications
  • Ultrasonography

The most crucial factor in determining the price of your abortion is the stage of your pregnancy.

A late-pregnancy abortion is much more difficult and expensive. Other elements that could affect costs include:

  • Abortion technique
  • Fees for anaesthetists (if required for sedation or general anaesthesia)
  • Previous health issues

A first-trimester termination procedure usually includes the surgical procedural fee, sedation and day surgery facility fees.

Mid-trimester termination (14-24 weeks) will cost more as it involves a longer and more complicated process in hospital.

Singaporean patients are also entitled to a Medisave claim and will have to produce either your NRIC or your husband’s NRIC if you choose to use his Medisave account.

Your Medisave account allows you to spend up to $1050 on both private and public transportation.

All you need to do is show the clinic staff your NRIC, and they will process your claim.

As a subsidised patient, a polyclinic can also refer you to a public hospital for an abortion.

Abortion Clinics In Singapore

The most frequent locations for abortions are public hospitals or private abortion clinics.

The following public hospitals in Singapore offer abortion services:

  • KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH)
  • Singapore General Hospital (SGH)
  • National University Hospital (NUH)

Other private abortion clinics are listed below:

  • Women’s Clinic of Singapore
  • The OBGYN Centre – Obstetric Gynae & Abortion Clinic
  • Dr Jen Shek Wei – Abortion Clinic
  • Lien Clinic For Women
  • W Gynae – Singapore Abortion Clinic
  • Parkway Women & Fertility Clinic
  • Seng Clinic – Pregnancy Termination
  • Hii Women’s Clinic
  • Singapore Women’s Clinic (Tampines)
  • Dr Beh Suan Tiong (SOG – Beh Clinic For Women)
  • The O&G Care Clinic
  • Singapore’s Women’s Clinic Clementi
  • SP Teo Clinic For Women Pte Ltd
  • Theresa Women’s Clinic
  • Women’s Clinic
  • K M Heng Women’s Clinic Pte Ltd
  • Seng’s OG Practice
  • Specialist Women’s Medical Centre
  • SBCC Women’s Clinic (Clementi)
  • SMG Women’s Health
  • Beh Clinic for Women
  • Astra Women’s Specialist Clinic by SMG
  • The Women’s Specialist
  • John T.L. Lim Clinic & Surgery
  • Healthline Womens Clinic
  • Kusuma Lee Clinic & Surgery for Women

What Happens During An Abortion?

According to AWARE, in Singapore, there are three types of abortion procedures, which are:

Medical abortion

Medication will be administered either vaginally or orally over a period of two days, which will cause strong contractions in the uterus, after which the cervix will dilate and thus expel the pregnancy.

This procedure can only be done up to eight weeks.

First trimester surgical abortion (8 – 12 weeks)

In this procedure, forceps are inserted into the vagina and a local anaesthetic is inserted into the cervix. The cervix is then carefully dilated and a thin tube is passed through it and into the uterus.

A tube is then attached and used to suction the tissue out of the uterus. A curette will then be used to ensure the complete removal of pregnancy tissues.

Second trimester surgical abortion — (12 to 24 weeks)

This procedure is more complicated and hospitalisation is usually required for one or two days. Medication will be inserted into the vagina to induce the natural expulsion of the pregnancy.
After the foetus and placenta are aborted, the womb will be cleared by vacuum aspiration. Because this process is much more complicated, it is advised that an early decision for abortion should be made.
abortion in Singapore, medical, complications

There are potential complications that may arise after getting an abortion.

Potential Complications

As with any medical procedures, there are potential complications which may arise.
For abortions, the risks are:
  • Light bleeding
  • Incomplete evacuation of the womb
  • Painful cramping
  • Injury to the womb
  • Pelvic infection
Another extremely rare complication is uterine perforation, where a probe goes through the wall of the womb, which requires repair via keyhole surgery.

The Risks And Complications

Undergoing an abortion is generally safe and it’s very uncommon for major complications to occur — the risk is less than 1%.
However, it is important to note that the longer you drag on the pregnancy before you decide to abort, the higher the risk of complications you face.
The most common complications include:
  • Infection of the uterus – about 1 in 10 abortions but can be treated with antibiotics
  • Excessive bleeding (requires blood transfusion) – about 1 in 1,000 abortions, and 4 in 1,000 after 16 weeks
  • Damage to the cervix (the entrance of the womb) – occurs in about 10 in every 1,000 abortions
  • Damage to the uterus – about 4 in every 1,000 abortions, and less than one in 1,000 medical abortions carried out at 12-24 weeks
  • Residual pregnancy tissue still remaining – about 1 – 2 in 100 undergoing surgical abortion, and about 6 in 100 undergoing medical termination. This may require a second procedure.

Other Options in Singapore

Abortion is not the only option for “getting rid” of a pregnancy.
If you are seeking assistance with your pregnancy, there are various hotlines that you can call to talk about the other options, such as:
Pregnancy Crisis Service: 6339-9770
Alife: 6258-8816
Babes: 8111-3535 (for pregnant teenagers)

For Women Who Are Considering an Abortion

Your attitude and needs will ultimately determine which abortion method you use. Your doctor can assist you in making the right decision.
Additionally, there are many forms of contraception available, whether you are in a new relationship, recently married and want to delay pregnancy, recently gave birth, or have finished your family plans. Prevention is always preferable to cure. Consult your gynaecologist to determine your needs and the most effective method of contraception for you.
*theAsianparent takes a neutral stance on this topic, as we feel abortion is a decision best made by the woman, after discussion with relevant parties. 
What is your stand on abortions? Do you think it is a woman’s right to decide for herself? Or do you feel it should not even be an option? Tell us your views in the comments section below.

Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.

Abortion In Singapore: Everything You Need To Know About It

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