Reduce abortions by helping pregnant mothers financially

Medical doctor Ng Liang Wei wrote a letter to the Straits Times forum today suggesting that a fund be set up to help mothers to defray the cost of their pregnancies so as to give them less reasons to abort their babies.

I fully support this idea. I have blogged about the issue of the staggering number of abortions in Singapore before. I think for too long, the debate on abortion (at least in the US — we haven’t debated much about it in Singapore) has been centred on pro-life vs pro-choice. Pro-lifers say abortionist are killing babies, while pro-choicers say anti-abortionists are restricting the freedom of women to do what they want with their own bodies. The argument goes on and any attempt to find common ground is squashed.

But as Dr Ng pointed out, even pro-choicers would agree that abortions are not the best way to resolve unplanned pregnancies. These include US President Barack Obama, an ardent pro-choice advocate, who has stated that America needs to look into reducing the abortion rate.

I hope both pro-lifers and pro-choicers in Singapore will get together to flesh out this proposal. I’d like to be part of it and can be contacted at gerald.giam {at} gmail.com.

Straits Times Forum, 22 August 2009

Set up pregnancy fund to curb abortions

ABORTION remains a sensitive topic in Singapore. However, we have some common ground. Very few actually think abortion is the best way to resolve unplanned pregnancies.

In a country marked by scarcity of babies but endowed with material wealth, we should consider using that wealth to address the issue.

While the reasons for abortions remain complex, money is one factor. Perhaps we should set up a fund that women can tap during their pregnancy.

At the beginning of their pregnancy, they may apply for it and be paid a percentage according to their last drawn pay, to remain pregnant and place the foetus under ‘state custody’.

At term, they can either put the child up for adoption via a government-related agency or repay the amount in instalments should they have developed a bond with the child.

The abortion rate in Singapore is more than 10,000 a year. If we can save 10 per cent, we will increase our baby numbers by at least 1,000.

Financially, this makes more sense than spending a lot of money on campaigns to persuade the unmotivated to become pregnant. Basic economics tells us that in a numbers crunch, we must cut our losses.

Perhaps pro-life-motivated groups could draft a more detailed proposal and ask for matching funds from the Government. We should face the losses head-on, notwithstanding the controversy.

For now, why not skirt the debate and start working on cutting losses and refine the system as we go along? Money should not be the reason Singapore is losing babies every year.

Dr Ng Liang Wei


Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

10 thoughts on “Reduce abortions by helping pregnant mothers financially”

  1. this seems to be an re-emerging issue.

    i cant recall whether it was in late 60s, or during 70s, the reknowned late gynaecologiest S.S.Ratnam did a study and discovered that many Malay women were going for abortions because they were not literate enough then to practise family planning and they could not afford the unsubsidised hospital fees and higher income taxes which were punitive measures imposed on those who wanted more than 2 children. Prof SS Ratnam advocated using better family planning advisory techniques than using those punitive financial measures as abortions carry potential health risks to mothers.

  2. It’s true that women should have a choice in what to do with their own bodies..

    ..but have these women asked the baby first whether he/she wants to live or die??

  3. We don’t need to go down the road like the americans. Education is needed and not debate. Those wanting debate have divisive agenda.

  4. isn’t the cost of raising a child around 450k SGD? Does Dr Ng intend to pay that much?

    whats the point of a child half educated or not educated? a tax on society. if you can’t do it right, don’t do it in the first place.

    not to mention the carbon footprint one more human will cost.

  5. Adoption is a channel that I don’t hear people talk about much. I believe it’s a viable means to reduce abortions and maybe help with the national average, no?

    There are many singaporeans like myself who have probably exhausted any means (ie IVF etc) to have my own children and adoption is a route that we are considering. More could be done to make this process easier.

  6. Hi diagnostix – Could you share what is the difficulty couples face in adopting currently? It’s something that I too think we should focus more on.

  7. From the 90s onwards, crime rate throughout the whole of United States dropped significantly, many experts cited reasons from economy is doing very well to increased policemen.

    But none cited the real reason which is a landmark court case on abortion, after that case, abortion become legalized, children that were originally supposed to be born to dysfunctional families like single mother and become late teens in the 90s were not born.

    Of course, whether legalized abortion leads to reduced crime rate is up till now, a debatable issue, though the author of Freaknomics got references many statistical data prove his point and why other reasons cited by other crime experts are not really true.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalized_abortion_and_crime_effect

  8. To add on, in which the dependability of data meet the randomness of life,

    Though statistically speaking, an inverse correlation is observed between the availability of abortion and subsequent crime, or that often unwanted children turn to be criminals, there are of course many examples in which orphans like Asia’s richest woman, does not and against all odds achieved success.

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