Wednesday, 22 April 2015

[Straits Times] Ethics relevant in pre-abortion counselling

I FULLY agree with Mr Han Ming Guang that terminating a pregnancy is not a trivial decision ("Leave beliefs out of pre-abortion counselling"; Monday).
While Mr Han advocated that beliefs should not be taken into consideration, when he suggested focusing on only the physical, financial and emotional considerations, he was subscribing to a particular belief - that of utilitarianism.
It would be ironic for us to suggest that we should not be focused on only a particular belief but advocate that we should make informed decisions based on purely utilitarian beliefs.
I am also uncomfortable with Mr Han's suggestion that we leave ethics out of the equation.
Ethics are not necessarily religious. Ethics, in their most fundamental state, are merely how we view life and being human.
It is not only about society's view but our own personal view on life.
It is precisely because abortion affects the woman at the most personal level that ethics are relevant.
Utilitarianism is also an ethical belief.
As an economics-trained professional, I fully see the value in utilitarianism.
But to use only utilitarian beliefs to make our decision would be insufficient.
If the consideration of a decision, especially when it involves a life, is made purely on utilitarian grounds, I fear that this will also extend to other areas, like matters involving our aged and sick parents.
In addition, many individuals have difficulty living with their personal decisions not because of society's demands, but because of dissonance with their own personal views.
I agree with Mr Han that the Health Ministry and counsellors should provide full information, and that women should make informed choices.
Full information should include utilitarian factors (benefits and costs of both abortion and carrying on with the pregnancy), and also personal ethical considerations.
Leong Chun Keong