NOTICE PAPER NO. 866
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 11 JANUARY 2022 Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Christopher de Souza
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
Question No. 1351
To ask the Minister for Health whether the Termination of Pregnancy Act can be reviewed such as to lower the current limit for termination from 24 weeks to 22 weeks in light of advancements in neonatology which indicate that babies born at 22 weeks gestation have a chance of viability.
The threshold of 24 weeks was based on scientific evidence of foetal viability outside the womb. In 2018, MOH conducted a review involving local medical experts on the threshold of 24 weeks. The review concluded that current guidelines should continue, as the survival for premature babies born at 24 weeks was about 50% and for premature babies born at 23 weeks was about 20%. The babies who survived had a very high risk of severe and long-term problems such as neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Updated data for 2019 to 2020 from two local public hospitals showed that out of the 13 premature babies born at 23 weeks, only 6 survived to discharge. However, all 6 who survived also suffered from severe problems such as severe chronic lung disease, brain haemorrhage and retinopathy of prematurity. These neonatal conditions often lead to disabilities, poor quality of life requiring life-long medical treatment, and a shortened life expectancy. MOH will continue to monitor these indices and take into account local expert advice and experience.