Ms Sylvia Lim asked the Minister for Health (a) whether the Termination of Pregnancy Regulations requiring mandatory counselling and a 48-hour time lapse thereafter before termination of a pregnancy under 24 weeks are applicable in cases where the termination of pregnancy is medically certified to be required due to the impossibility of survival of the unborn child; and (b) if so, whether the requirements can be reviewed so as to reduce the anguish caused to the parents.
Mr Ong Ye Kung: The pre-abortion counselling by a trained counsellor and a 48-hour time lapse after the counselling session is not required where termination of pregnancy is immediately necessary to save the life or prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the woman.
The requirements still apply to women whose babies have been diagnosed with foetal anomalies not compatible with life. In such situations, there may be options presented to the mother, such as proceeding with termination of pregnancy, or delivery upon confirmation of foetal demise, or delivery of a liveborn baby with planned palliative care to the point of neonatal or infant death. The trained counsellor would tailor the counselling session to individual’s needs, and focus on supporting the psychosocial, mental and emotional well-being of the woman.
The 48-hour time lapse balances between avoiding undue delays where the situation may be life threatening to the woman and providing the woman sufficient time to prepare and consider her next steps to make an informed decision. Medical social workers and counsellors may also be activated when needed to support the distressed woman during this window.
Ministry of Health
4 April 2022