Written by Ng E-Jay
13 July 2009

It was reported recently in Channel News Asia that around 12,000 foetuses are aborted every year in Singapore, with doctors claiming that not enough people are using contraceptives, or are using them incorrectly.

At face value, the number of 12,000 abortions every year must lead some pro-life pundits to claim that our family planning policies have gone astray and perhaps to even question whether our social norms are degrading. Over the years, there have been repeated calls for Singapore’s relatively easy access to abortion to be examined with the view that it should be tightened.

However, one must go beyond the superficial numbers presented and seek to understand the underlying reasons for those abortions. Although the Channel News Asia article focussed on the lack of use of contraceptives in explaining the abortion rates, I suspect many cases are due to socio-economic reasons and financial hardship.

According to the Channel News Asia article, about half of the abortions are done by married women. The article also says that many women have misconceptions about the side effects of contraceptives, for example, inaccurately thinking that birth control pills may be linked to cancer or weight gain.

Dr Beh Suan Tiong, president of the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, said: “Every contraception method (carries) some potential side effects but they actually rank much less compared to the risk of abortion.

Don’t these misconceptions demonstrate clearly the need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education?

During the AWARE saga, pro-life and religious-minded conservatives launched stinging attacks on AWARE’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme, claiming that it promoted homosexuality and disregarded family values.

The truth is the AWARE’s CSE programme focusses on empowering youths by providing them facts and information in a neutral setting and teaching them to make responsible, informed choices. The correct use of contraceptives is also a key component of the programme.

There are yet other critics and bigots who still to this day claim that we should not teach our young to use condoms, lest they become promiscuous. (SEE: Medieval attitudes towards sex and sexuality, rather than tolerance of alternative lifestyles, undermine the social fabric.)

But clearly, if the doctors are correct in saying that the lack of knowledge or misunderstandings concerning contraceptives are a key reason why abortion rates in Singapore are rising, then all the more we need CSE programmes that impart to our youths the information they need.


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  1. Not surprising our family policy has failed. The overall policy of the PAP government is tailored such that it will extract as much money from its population at large that people are fightened off of having children as the economic burden is too overwhelming not only for this generation but for generations to come. PAP is better called a money-face party!

  2. aside from the part about the misconceptions abt contraceptives and abortions done by un-married women, it is also essential to understand why married women are aborting 6000 foetuses a year or 500 a month. understanding and solving this problem will go a long way to solving our ageing population issue to a certain extent IMO.

    easy access to abortion is not something that should be taken as a symbol of so called “degrading family values” or “soceital values”. it is necessary, for the safety of our women. without easy access to abortion, there will be an increase in cases of abandoned newborns and even higher increase in cases where women seek quack doctors here or overseas to do abortions where sanitary standards are compromised.

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