Is abortion legal in Singapore?
What are the rules and regulations surrounding abortion in Singapore? Find out here.
If you are scared to reach out and ask about terminating a pregnancy, know that you’re not alone. A Singaporean woman recently reached out on Reddit and asked “is abortion legal in Singapore?” along with what are the procedures.
She set up a “throwaway account” to stay anonymous and shared “My period is very very late so I took the pregnancy test last week which came out negative but these past few days I’ve been experiencing some symptoms and will be going to a clinic to check it out.”.
Many people responded to her queries about the different procedures available. After all the helpful replies, she pointed out that abortions in Singapore were more frequent than she expected.
“I never knew abortion is actually quite common until she alerted me to the fact that people don’t talk about it and before I came to post this.”
Abortion certainly is more common than we thought. Which isn’t surprising since unplanned pregnancies can be distressing. Possible reasons for an abortion as indicated by research include:
- 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
Whatever your reasons for abortion, remember that it’s your choice. And in order to make the best choice, you’ll need to know all the facts before proceeding.
There’ll be a lot of unanswered questions around the procedure, risks involved and potential costs. A pressing matter involves the legal nature of abortions.
Is abortion legal in Singapore?
Guidelines by the Ministry of Health Singapore state that it’s legal to get an abortion in Singapore. However, you can only terminate during the first 24 weeks (six months) of pregnancy.
However, 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.
But even in this case, special approval is required from the authorities before the procedure can be carried out.
According to the Termination of Pregnancy [TOP] Act, there is no defined age limit for the procedure for an abortion in Singapore. And there is no legal requirement for parental consent for minors under the age of 16.
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.
However, just be aware that most doctors will not initiate abortion beyond 23 weeks, so it is advised for the woman to make an early decision.
So what happens if you decide early that an abortion is the way to go?
Before you see a qualified doctor, the Singapore Abortion Law act 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.
But according to a news report, very few women who are seeking an abortion in Singapore will change their mind 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.
What is the cost of abortion in Singapore?
Under the Termination of Pregnancy act in Singapore, for an abortion in Singapore, only an authorised gynaecologist in an approved institution can carry out the procedure.
The cost of the procedure itself ranges from $300 to $3500 or more. This mainly depends on the variations in the type of theatre employed, the depth of anaesthesia applied, other inclusions and the actual clinic you choose.
One lady on Reddit claimed that there isn’t much difference in costs between a private and a public hospital.
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 the hospital.
Singaporean patients are also entitled to a Medisave claim and will have to produce either their NRIC or their husband’s NRIC if using his Medisave account.
Once you’ve weighed up the price and have decided on where you’ll have the procedure, it’ll help to know what will happen next.
What Happens During An Abortion?
There are two main options for abortions:
- Medical abortions (for pregnancies less than eight weeks) — It involves consuming an “abortion pill”; no need for any surgery or anaesthetic.
- Surgical abortions — Performing a vacuum aspiration procedure to induce abortion; done under sedation or general anaesthesia.
First trimester surgical abortion (eight – 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 around 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.
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.
We’ve covered many topics around terminating unplanned pregancy, such as is abortion legal in Singapore, the implied costs as well as the procedures. We hope that whatever your situation, the information will help you make the choice that’s best for you.