by: Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss/
In the last few years, we have seen an unprecedented number of foreigners arriving to Singapore to take up jobs. Why did the Government invite them? They were invited to come because there are not enough Singaporeans in the workforce to keep the economy going. The natural birth rate of Singaporeans is incredibly low. It is so low, that Singaporeans are not producing enough babies to replace ourselves.
We need a total fertility rate of 2.1 to replace ourselves. But our total fertility rate has sunk to an all-time low of 1.16. Natural born Singaporeans are dwindling. This is the reason why our Government says we have no choice but to keep importing foreign labour and foreign talent to cover the shortfall of Singaporeans in the workforce.
As against all this, in Singapore, about 1 in every 4 pregnancies is aborted. Yes, every year, there are about 12,000 abortions in Singapore. But what is shocking and disturbing to me, is that half of abortions are carried out by married women.
Of course, there are many valid reasons why women go for abortions. According to statistics, only a small number of abortions are due to health reasons. So why do married women kill off their unborn children?
A Report by Associated Foreign Press dated 1 May 2009 , told the story of Mazlinda Majlam who had a recurring nightmare every night for a week, of a baby with no eyes sitting down and just looking at her. This horrifying dream began the night she returned home from having an abortion – 2 months after she was retrenched as a result of Singapore’s worst recession in more than 40 years. The mother of 3 said that “bad economic times” prompted her to terminate her pregnancy and she would not hesitate to have another abortion, if necessary. “I can’t afford it,” said the tall, slim Majlam of the prospect of having another child soon.
On 19 March 2011, the Straits Times published a letter from a Wendy Tan who decided to abort her twins. This is what the working mother of 2 she said in her letter to the Forum Page:
“So, when I was expecting for the third time two years ago, we made a very hard decision to terminate the pregnancy. We just did not have the energy to cope with a third because the first two had taken up all the energy we had. So far, we have had six years of interrupted sleep and we are not prepared for more. Finance was also a big consideration as I was almost out of a job then. If I had seen through the pregnancy I would not have been able to get another job. Relying on a single income was simply too tough because we had to care for our parents as well. Having two children was more than we could manage and having two more was just too much. Yes, my third pregnancy involved twins. The decision not to have them was doubly difficult.”
You know, my father used to tell me that in the olden days of China, it was common for married women to drown their newborn babies in a bucket of water immediately after giving birth, because of poverty. No way for another mouth to be fed.
My own grandma came from China to Malacca in the 1920s. When she gave birth to her 7th child, it was a girl and her husband forced her to give the baby away. He refused to support another child. My grandma reluctantly handed the newborn baby to a convent. Unfortunately the newborn girl soon died. My grandma was very sad and never forgot about this child which she had to give away.
I never would have thought that in this day and age, and after 46 years of nation building, Singaporean married mothers have to make the difficult decision to terminate their pregnancies because of economic hardships. At the same time as thousands of babies are destroyed by married Singaporean mothers out of economic necessity, the number of native Singaporeans is ever decreasing, our birth rate keeps falling and we having to rely more and more on foreigners to make up the workforce for our economy. What is going on here? I don’t understand it!
I can understand if women are forced to go for abortion because of health reasons or because of social stigma. But where we have married women going for abortion due to financial hardship, surely this is an area the Government can and must do something to help. After all, the Government has made it an aim to do something about the falling birth rate.
So, instead of focusing on importing more and more foreigners to cover the labour and talent shortfall, I want to see the Government pay more attention to alleviating the financial hardships of Singaporeans. I do not want to hear of married women having to go for abortions out of financial fears. The primary duty of the Government of Singapore is to take care of its citizens. Let us remind the Government of this.
Folks, Singaporeans are worried about their future. Singaporeans worry that they cannot find a job or that they may lose their job. They also worry that they don’t earn enough from their job to pay for their homes or to look after their aged parents, wife and children.
Until Singaporeans feel safe and secure about their future, Singaporeans will be reluctant to get married; if they are married they will be reluctant to have children; and if they get pregnant they will immediately think of aborting. Such is the tragedy of our modern day living in Singapore.
This article first appeared on "In My Own Words". We thank Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss for allowing us to reproduce the edited version of the article on TOC.