On Monday, United States president Donald Trump signed a host of executive orders in his first few days of the presidency, with one of them being an anti-abortion order while he was surrounded by men.
But we do not have to look far away to see a pro-life movement happening – in fact, it is taking root in Singapore as well.
An event happening this February on sex and sexuality for parents of teenagers is being run by a government- and Catholic-funded organisation that claims to support ‘pro-life, pro-family, and pro-marriage’ programmes.
According to the event’s website, one of the event’s rationales said the programme aims to support the Ministry of Education and the Health Promotion Board in their advocacy for abstinence.
The website said the word abstinence is “more appropriately put forth as chastity” in their programme, which is being advertised on parenting website Kiasuparents.
Although the event does not advertise a specific pro-life message and promised not to delve into the consequences of having premarital or casual sex, the event endeavoured to highlight ‘alternative truths’ on concepts of freedom, the human body and its sexuality through four themes such as ‘My Body Communicates’ and ‘My Decisions Make Me’.
The Made For More initiative also contained a component for teenagers, in which a graphic on the webpage revealed abortion as a negative trait whereas life-giving is seen as a positive one.
A check on the Family Life Society’s 2015 annual report revealed the charity receives grants from the government as well as Caritas Singapore Community Council Limited, the official social and community arm of the Catholic Church of Singapore.
These grants total more than $600,000, the annual report’s financial statement said.
On Caritas’ webpage, Family Life Society is listed as a “ministry” that “strives to nurture, journey and support services and programmes which are pro-life, pro-family, and pro-marriage”.
It further adds that the charity aims to collaborate with stakeholders to “preserve the sanctity of the unborn”.
A check on Family Life Society’s executive director Mr Paul Long, 53, revealed that he is a member of a Facebook group called ‘Pro-Life Singapore- A Catholic Christian Community’ (sic).
The public group – with more than 580 members – describes itself as a group that disagrees with the legalisation of abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and contraception as they are “attacking the dignity and sanctity of human life”.
One of the five administrators of the group, Mr Andy Wee, is an instructor with Natural Family Planning, an affiliate of the Family Life Society. Mr Wee also spoke at an event run by the Apostolate for Catholic Truth, run by Mr Andrew Kong who previously worked at Family Life Society as a trainer on sexuality education programmes.
But the website’s WHOIS lookup revealed that it is hosted by a server called Caritas Host, which donates 20 percent of its earnings towards the Singapore pro-life project Lejeune Society, run by an Andy Wee although Popspoken could not verify if this was the same person who runs the Pro-Life Facebook group.
The Caritas Singapore organisation does not use the Caritas Host server, neither if it is known if both entities are linked.
Abortion was legalised in 1969 under the Abortion Act and liberalised in 1974 such that any woman could seek an abortion. Author Bill Muehlenberg observed that a small pro-life movement has emerged in Singapore, mainly spearheaded by Catholic groups such as Prolife Singapore and Family Life Society.
In 2013, Assoc Prof Tan Seow Hon, who teaches law at Singapore Management University and contributes to Trinity Theological College publications, said it was time to review abortion laws as earlier reasons to control the population were considered to be backward.
However, Minister Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament that “the decision to carry a baby to term or abort (it) is ultimately a deeply personal one”, which was a statement that gender equality advocacy group AWARE Singapore echoed.
Featured photo: Bonnie Kittle/Unsplash