By Sinead Lee
If you’re affected from the surge of extremist anti-abortion laws happening in the U.S. — most recently, the abortion law endorsed by Republican governors of Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama voting to ban the procedure at six weeks — you’re not alone.
Having once called the States my home, this ban hits hard even as I live in a country that does not restrict my reproductive rights nor undermine a woman’s choice to control her own body under a government mandate.
Growing up in a non-religious family, I personally believe that using religion as a blanket to encourage life is hypocritical when you don’t consider the woman at the brunt of it. We can agree to disagree. Any derogatory term targeted to my morals on reproductive health, you name it, I’ve had it spout on me by former friends. In my mind, pro-choice is not a synonym for pro-abortion, it simply means not forcing a woman to make reproductive choices that doesn’t safeguard anyone but herself.
We’re talking about reproductive justice and having safe access to the resources you need. I’m not convinced that denying the right to an abortion creates an environment of zero abortion procedures happening. It seems to me that the actual result is forcing women to choose unsafe methods like conducting a self-induced abortion. The consumption of pills, inserting a wire hanger into the uterus, inducing hypothermia, etc.
WHAT IS THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING GEORGIA’S ABORTION BAN?
In a nutshell, standing for this Unborn Act, it basically means a woman is only granted an abortion in the case to avoid death or substantial physical impairment.
“Several states including Georgia have pursued “heartbeat” bills – legislation that would ban abortion as soon as a physician is able to detect a fetal heartbeat” – According to TIME
Repeat after me: this law does not allow any exceptions for cases of rape or incest… or basic human rights like personally deciding you’re not physically, mentally, or financially capable to bring a child into this world.
In my opinion, it could be argued that an anti-choice rhetoric is in favour of the unborn; not once you’re born, not when you have no access to healthcare, not when you’re lacking welfare and certainly not if you don’t have a roof over your head. Pro-life isn’t as straightforward as it sounds too; in reality, it can mean the subjugation of women — in the U.S. for instance, there are people hell-bent on policing women’s bodies to justify their own personal beliefs without any accountability towards the impregnators: men.
Based on Georgia’s abortion ban, the cut-off timing is at six weeks. At a mere six weeks, one could simply have missed her period for two weeks (a relatively common feat) and not know that they are pregnant.
As Planned Parenthood and gynaecologist Dr. Jennifer Gunter explains, this ban movement is misleading anti-abortion language as at six weeks of fetal development, it is highly unlikely that there is an actual heartbeat.
By the time a woman seeks an abortion, her case may make it liable for jail time under the new abortion law. Take note that under this abortion law, if a woman is found to be responsible for a miscarriage they can be subjected to charges of second-degree murder.
SINGAPORE ABORTION LAW
In response to this whole debacle on abortion law, here is a guide to Singapore’s abortion laws as well as some insight towards reproductive health.
IS ABORTION LEGAL IN SINGAPORE?
WHO CAN HAVE AN ABORTION IN SINGAPORE?
An authorised medical practitioner is prohibited from carrying out the termination of pregnancy on any pregnant woman other than the following stated below — unless it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.
- There is no minimum or maximum age
- There is no legal requirement for parental consent for minors (16 and below)
- A citizen of Singapore or the wife of a citizen of Singapore
- A holder (or the wife) of a work permit pass or employment pass
- A person who has been a resident in Singapore for at least 4 months
WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
- Mandatory counselling for all patients
- A mandatory waiting period of 48 hours after counselling
- May be required to return a week later for post-abortion counselling and to check for any complications
WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR AN ABORTION?
- Abortion is prohibited after 24 weeks/6 months of pregnancy (unless mother’s life is in danger)
- Timeline is calculated from the first day of last menstruation
WHAT ARE THE RESOURCES FOR MINORS SEEKING ABORTION?
- For pregnant minors under the age of 21
- According to AWARE (an organisation that offers guidance and advocates for sexual and reproductive rights), they recommend reaching out to Babes, a teenage pregnancy crisis service that lends help and support
- Babes run a 24-hour helpline and offer in-person meetings to discuss your options
DO MINORS HAVE A RIGHT TO CONFIDENTIALITY?
According to AWARE, when a minor approaches their organisation for support, all conversations are kept confidential. However, in the case of the following situations, they may have to inform the police or Child Services.
- AWARE is unable to ensure your safety if you have told them about a situation in which you or another person is currently in an unsafe environment
- When a minor (16 and under) is at risk of harm
CONTRACEPTIONS IN SINGAPORE?
In Singapore, we are given access to contraception via a GP or a gynaecologist. From birth control pills, intra-uterine device (IUD) to diaphragms, we are provided professional information and the right to our own reproductive choices, and of course, our own future.
- Birth control pills
- Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
- Hormonal Injection
- Vaginal Hormonal Ring
For the full list of contraceptions, visit here.
WHAT IS THE CASE FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT?
First off, it’s never the victim’s fault. It’s a damn shame we have to remind others of this.
- According to the Health Promotion Board, pre-abortion counselling is mandatory for minors below 16 years old (except for rape victims)
- If you’d like to seek legal information or further support regarding sexual assault, please visit sacc.aware.org.sg or call the SACC helpline at 67790282 (Mon-Fri, 10am-10pm)
Written by Sinead Lee.