The number of abortions carried out in Singapore has gone down by about 12 per cent from 2006 to 2012, while there has been a sharper decline of 44 per cent in abortions carried out for girls aged below 16 over the same period.
Responding to Mr Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC) in Parliament on Tuesday, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said 10,624 abortions were carried out last year, down from 12,032 in 2006.
Of these, 84 abortions were carried out on girls aged below 16 in 2006. The number dropped to 47 last year.
While the Termination of Pregnancy Act requires most women, regardless of age, to go for pre-abortion counselling, Dr Khor said just about 4 per cent change their minds after the counselling. This could be because of the different reasons women may have for undergoing abortions, such as being unmarried or divorced, having enough children or feeling they are not ready to start a family, she said.
Responding to Mr Yam's worry that Singapore may become a "regional abortion hub" due to its more liberal abortion laws than other countries in the region, Dr Khor said the law already has safeguards to prevent foreigners from coming into Singapore just for an abortion. Medical practitioners can carry out abortions for foreigners only if they are the spouse of a Singapore citizen or work pass holder, if they are work pass holders themselves, or if they have resided in Singapore for at least four months before the date of the abortion.
The Health Ministry is also in the midst of reviewing guidelines for the Termination of Pregnancy Act, specifically on the issues of strengthening pre-abortion counselling, the critera for mandatory counselling as well as the counselling content, said Dr Khor.