Parliament: No plans to lower the abortion limit of 24 weeks, says Amy Khor

Baby's ward at KK hospital. Laws in Singapore allow women to get abortions for pregnancies of up to 24 weeks, and the Government has no plans to lower this limit. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Baby's ward at KK hospital. Laws in Singapore allow women to get abortions for pregnancies of up to 24 weeks, and the Government has no plans to lower this limit. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Laws in Singapore allow women to get abortions for pregnancies of up to 24 weeks, and the Government has no plans to lower this limit.

Senior Minister of State (Health) Amy Khor said this in Parliament on Wednesday, in response to a question by Mr Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who wanted to know if lowering this limit would lead to a fall in abortion numbers.

Dr Khor said it would have little effect on lowering the overall abortion rates, as only a small number of abortions performed here - 2 per cent in 2013, for example - are done between the 21st and 24th weeks of pregnancy.

She noted that other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, had also set the limit at 24 weeks, as this was generally regarded as the age of "foetal viability".

Doing so would also give women more time to decide whether or not they should keep their babies, if foetal abnormalities are picked up from a routine scan, done in the 20th week of pregnancy.

More than half of the abortions performed here last year between the 21st and 24 weeks of pregnancy, had been due to foetal abnormalities, anomalies or other medical reasons, she said.

"Keeping the abortion limit at 24 weeks will allow these mothers some time to consider the implications and make an informed decision as to whether to keep or abort the child without being rushed to meet a shorter cut-off time," she added.

Mr Yam had also asked if pre-abortion counselling would be extended to all women.

To this, Dr Khor said that a public consultation on this would be held by the Ministry of Health by the end of the year .

A review of the kind of information to be provided during these counselling sessions and the training of the counsellors, is also underway, she said.

The number of abortions performed last year - at 9,282 - fell below the 10,000 mark for the first time in at least 30 years, and was a historic low.