Impose parental consent requirement for minors undergoing abortions

I am dismayed that a young girl became pregnant at age 14, underwent an abortion procedure and even had to split the bill with the man - all without her parents' knowledge (Man jailed for having sex with girl, 14, who split the bill for abortion with him; ST Online, March 5).

In Singapore, a person under 18 cannot legally buy cigarettes or alcohol, consent to be married or enter into a contract.

This is based on the principle that young people are unable to fully understand the consequences of their actions and, therefore, are unable to give valid informed consent.

Hence, it is ironic that under the Termination of Pregnancy Act, there is no minimum age for the abortion procedure.

There is also no legal requirement for parental consent for minors to go through abortion.

Why is this so? Abortion is an invasive surgical procedure which carries with it risks of various complications.

Which parent would want their daughter to shoulder the psychological and physical trauma of abortion at such a young age, and without their knowledge and consent?

Parents are primarily responsible for the upbringing of their children. They are in the best position to protect teenage girls from potentially dangerous medical situations before, during and after an abortion.

The child might suffer from depression or there could be post-abortion complications such as infection or haemorrhaging.

The parents might also decide to offer support to their teenage daughter in bringing up the baby, thereby avoiding abortion altogether.

In cases where the parents are abusive, the girl's life is in danger or obtaining parental consent is difficult, exceptions can be made. But let us not let hard cases make bad laws.

Ho Lay Ping (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'Impose parental consent requirement for minors undergoing abortions'. Print Edition | Subscribe