needy family


I am glad this year's budget for the Ministry of Health has moved towards providing more assistance to those in need.

In particular, I am heartened that Medifund can be used for delivery and antenatal care.

I once came across a patient who saw me for complaints arising from complications of an abortion she underwent a week earlier.

During the consultation process, it became clear to me that she was hurting not just physically, but also emotionally.

She told me that this was not her first abortion, but her third.

As she fought back tears, she explained that she "had to" go through with the procedure as she was on the Home Ownership Plus Education (Hope) Scheme.

The scheme provides financial and material benefits to young, low-income families that choose not to have more than two children.

Once they have more than two children, they are no longer eligible for the benefits.

I am sure my patient is not the only young parent in anguish, and there are probably many others like her.

While the Hope scheme was conceived to help lower-income parents cope with the high cost of living, we might have inadvertently lost a number of Singapore citizens through abortions because of the conditions attached to it.

Should we discriminate against lower-income couples by penalising them for having more than two children?

Shouldn't we complement the scheme instead by putting in place programmes that help them build stronger marriages and become better parents?

If they decide they are unable to raise their children, why not provide them with services to facilitate adoption?

After all, there are many childless couples in the long queue to adopt children.

I am sure the scheme was initiated with good intentions. The question we must now ask is: Can we do better?


John Hui Keem Peng