PAP Women's Wing: 'Remove IVF age limit, cap pre-school fees'

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Removing age restrictions for IVF treatment and improving financial support for families with pre-school kids may increase the birth rate in Singapore, according to PAP Women's Wing.

 Women over the age of 45 should be allowed to have in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in Singapore, according to the People’s Action Party (PAP) Women’s Wing.

In a position paper submitted on Tuesday, 30 July the PAP Women’s Wing gave five key recommendations to Singapore’s government on how to increase support for parents and young families.  These include removing the age limit for IVF treatment and capping pre-school fees. The report, on which the recommendations were based from over 2,000 survey responses.

IVF treatment in Singapore should be more flexible

IVF treatment in Singapore

Image source: Shutterstock

Singapore legislation prohibits women over 45 years old from undergoing IVF treatment. The main concern is the risk of health complications and lower IVF success rates as age increases. However, the PAP Women’s Wing argued that “medical risks for women above 40 undergoing advancements in assisted reproductive technology (ART) have been reduced considerably.”

The study cited statistics showing women over 40 in England and Wales giving birth at an increasing rate compared to women under 20 years old. “Advances in fertility treatment was one of the reasons cited,” they added.

Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, Cheng Li Hui, also cited cities with no age limit restrictions for women undergoing reproductive assisted procedures. These include Australia, Hong Kong, and the United States.

She explains “I think we give women the right to choose, and the doctors to advise them. It’s actually women’s reproductive freedom of choice.”

Another recommendation is to allow 10 fresh IVF cycles per lifetime, no matter the age.
 
Currently, the law allows a cap of 10 cycles for women before 40 years old. Meanwhile, 5 cycles for older women.

As to whether subsidies should be extended to cover IVF beyond the age of 40, the paper said: “We agree with concerns that this may send the wrong signal about the likelihood of success. 

“We call on MOH to continually review the age limit for subsidised IVF and provide appropriate funding support where chances of conception are good.”

Support young families by lowering the cost of pre-school and allow flexible work arrangements

IVF treatment in Singapore

Image source: MediaCorp

Other suggestions included expanding the Anchor Operator and Partner Operator Preschool Scheme. The scheme is said to allow 80 per cent of families with pre-schoolers access to affordable childcare during working hours within a reasonable commute.

Study shows that families with a household income lower than $12,000 spend up to 15 per cent of their salary on pre-school fees. And many parents noted their Child Development Account funds ran out quickly in order to pay for pre-school fees.

Furthermore, many young parents noted that a long distance to commute between homes and schools was a growing concern.

In order to improve efficiency and better time management, the paper suggested employers offer flexible working arrangements. As of writing, 47 per cent of employees were offered to work from home.

The position paper was published after Singapore’s lowest birth rate in 2018 in the past 8 years.

Sources: Channel News Asia

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Written by

Vinnie Wong

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