By Dr Yuen Chung Kwong
A recent article from AWARE opposes restricting access to abortion in order to increase births, and advocates easing the burden of parenting instead.
I would go a step further: I believe the only way for “adoption instead of abortion” to work is if mothers are paid to have their babies adopted, and the way for “single mothers keeping their babies” to work is if they are supported by welfare.
“Remove structural barriers to parenthood such as poverty or discrimination against unwed parents” is a nice sounding idea, but very vague. What I advocate is concrete, but extremely unpleasant just to talk about, and probably even more unpleasant to implement.
With adoption for money, the more wealthy people would be “buying” babies from poor families; some buyers might want to pick and choose the right “product” suiting their own “taste”, some might engage in bidding wars, with couples willing to spend more money getting the babies, depriving the less well off prospective parents.
With welfare support for single mothers, many would moralize that the scheme uses public money to promote promiscuity; some would see the idea as government baby farming, and the single mothers as state employees paid to meet a national objective.
Yet the simple fact is: a young woman contemplating abortion cannot simply be “persuaded” “educated” “couselled” into doing the work of bearing the child for another 7-8 months, either to give the baby to someone else, or to bear the burden of raising the child on her own afterwards. One can spend much time wishing that things should be so and so, or lamenting why things are not so, but that would not change the state of things.
The government has the power and resources to do unpleasant things; it could, for example, restrict car loans and raise ARF on some cars in order to bring down COE prices, ignoring the numerous, perhaps better sounding, alternative ideas on the topic. But even this government might find “baby trading” and “baby farming” hard to contemplate, and would hesitate to take action along such lines without a national consensus arising from a sense of crisis and emergency. Which I doubt we are anywhere near such a point.
Dr Yuen Chung Kwong completed his PhD in Computer Science from Sydney University in 1972 and worked in Australia and Hongkong before joining NUS Computer Science Department in 1983; he was department head from 1985 to 1993 and retired in 2007.