Forum: Falling abortion numbers: Help for fathers paying dividends

It was heartening to read The Sunday Times' report (Number of abortions down by about half in nearly a decade, March 8).

Many reasons were cited for the decrease in abortions since 2010. However, one that has not been highlighted is the role of fathers in that particular situation.

Research has shown that the child's father is an important influence in a woman's decision to abort.

If the father turns his heart away from his child, or against his child, the woman is more likely to carry out an abortion.

Many fathers are not equipped to have such conversations about abortion, and we might end up not saying anything, and abdicating that decision to the mother of the unborn child. Fathers need to be supported in this regard.

A study of the abortion statistics preceding 2010 showed the figure hovering around 12,000, before it started to decline steadily to the recent 6,400.

And a significant event that happened in Singapore between 2009 and 2010 was the launch of our national fathering movement, Dads for Life, in conjunction with International Men's Day on Nov 19, 2009.

Dads for Life served to inspire and involve fathers to be good influences in their children's lives for life. And the Centre for Fathering has been its driving force since 2015, to equip and engage fathers to be more actively involved in the family.

Dads for Life has since grown to engage over 300,000 families each year, through more than 200 programmes.

More than 5,000 fathers take part in parenting programmes like Ican - short for Involvement, Consistency, Awareness, and Nurturance - workshops, parenting seminars and adventure camps annually.

Fathers in Singapore today are enabled with competences to support their wives at the various life-cycle stages of their children's lives, with emphasis on the critical partnership that both should develop during pregnancy and their children's formative years.

As fathers become better supported in the community through Dads for Life, and held accountable for the state of their marriage and family life, the abortion number in Singapore will and must go down.

And I hope to see more fathers being activated and mobilised through this national fathering movement, to support one another in the community, so that Singapore can be known to be made for families.

Bryan Tan Hon Jonn

Chief Executive Officer

Centre for Fathering and Dads for Life

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