Is Abortion Legal In Singapore? Here’s What You Should Know

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

doctor talking unhappy teenage patient exam room

Is Abortion Legal In Singapore? Here’s What You Should Know

Are you wondering, is abortion legal in Singapore? In Singapore, getting an abortion is not only possible but legal. One of the first Asian countries to do so, it was legalised in 1974. Anyone who has been a legal resident of Singapore for at least four months, married to a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, and has been awarded a student or work permit can apply for it.

1. Who Can Get An Abortion In Singapore?

In Singapore, getting an abortion is legal, and there is no minimum age requirement. However, pregnancy termination services are available exclusively to the following individuals:

  • Citizens of Singapore or the spouses of Singaporean nationals
  • A resident of Singapore for at least four months before the scheduled date of abortion..
  • A person who has been granted employment authorisation in accordance with the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act or the wife of a work pass holders
  • In rare cases, such as when a pregnant woman’s life is in danger, an abortion may be legal.

A pregnant woman can face a fine of up to $3,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years if she undergoes an abortion procedure without meeting any of the conditions mentioned above. The doctor who assisted in her abortion may face similar charges.

2. Confidentiality Of Abortion

To protect the woman’s privacy before having an abortion, doctors and hospitals are required by law to keep the specifics of the process confidential. The patient  must give her informed consent before doctors and other medical personnel can tell anyone about the abortion.

Violators are subject to penalties, including a $2,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

3. Can My Doctor Refuse Their Service For Abortion?

Doctors and other medical staff are free to decline to assist in abortions. If they have a “conscientious objection,” they are not obligated by contract or the law to carry out the procedure.

Medical personnel have an ethical obligation to perform abortions only when doing so is medically required to preserve the pregnant woman’s life or to prevent the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health from being severely or permanently damaged.

Conditions in which it is unethical to perform abortion procedures include the following:

  • If the pregnancy has lasted longer than 16 weeks, it is illegal to perform an abortion unless the procedure is performed by a licensed doctor who possesses the required credentials. 
  • Procedures on pregnancies after 24 weeks are also prohibited unless required to safeguard the woman’s life or health.Under section 4 of the TPA, the duration of pregnancy may be determined as follows:
  • By a clinical exam 
  • By calculating from the first day of the pregnant woman’s last normal period to the end of the 24th week

In addition, anyone who uses compulsion or intimidation to force a pregnant woman to get an abortion or force her to do so against her will is guilty of a criminal offence and can be fined up to $3,000 or imprisoned for up to three years.

4. Reasons For Obtaining An Abortion In Singapore

There are numerous reasons a woman could decide to end her pregnancy through abortion:

  • Instability of finances
  • Conflict in relationships
  • Reluctance to raise children alone
  • Life-threatening consequences to the mother
  • Concerns regarding the foetus’ health
  • Her husband, partner, or parents demand that she get an abortion.

Although there are numerous reasons a woman would consider doing so, deciding to get an abortion was not a simple choice on her part.

5. What To Expect When Getting An Abortion In Singapore

asian doctor visit examines young adult woman

Visiting your doctor, who may be a gynaecologist or a general practitioner (GP), is the initial step in obtaining an abortion.

Mandatory Counselling Service

All patients wanting abortions must undergo pre abortion counselling before the procedure. Following your consultation, your physician will provide directions to a counselling facility.

Girls under 16 are required to get counselling at the Health Promotion Board Counseling Center (except for rape victims). 

Before getting medical treatment, people with mental disabilities must obtain certification from a psychiatrist that continuing the pregnancy would be hazardous to the mother.

If a doctor refuses to perform an abortion owing to moral or ethical concerns, you have the right to seek a second opinion.

After counselling, if a pregnant woman still wants to abort, she must wait at least 48 hours before giving her informed permission to undergo the abortion procedure. The woman should also undergo post abortion counselling.

Pre-abortion counselling was formerly optional for:

  • Non-Singaporean women.
  • Women with three or more children
  • Women who did not pass the PSLE
  • Women without a secondary education.

This changed on April 17, 2015. Counselling is no longer optional under the new rules.

Waiting Time

Time needed to wait for the procedure after counselling is 48 hours.


Any time a patient chooses to have an abortion, they will be asked to sign a form disclosing their current marital status, educational level, and family size.

The Ministry of Health keeps a registry of all prenatal treatments, including the patient’s name, the date of the procedure, and the type of termination.

Following an abortion procedure, individuals are often given post abortion counselling and requested to return a week later to have any issues identified and treated.

Conclusion On Abortion Law In Singapore

Getting an abortion can be daunting especially when family members are involved. It is best to talk to a professional to help you navigate legal waters before getting an abortion in Singapore. Contact us at Singapore Family Lawyer for legal assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions On Abortion Law In Singapore

Is Pregnancy Termination Allowed In Singapore?

Abortion is legal and available in Singapore, but only for pregnancies that have not exceeded 24 weeks (6 months) of gestation. Late-term abortions are prohibited unless the mother’s life is in danger or the foetus is diagnosed with a severe defect.

Can TOP Be Conducted On A Woman Who Lacks Travel And/Or Residency Documents?

No. By examining the pertinent paperwork, the authorised TOP (Termination of Pregnancy) physician must verify that the woman requesting TOP meets the residence conditions outlined in the TOP Act.

Under the Termination of Pregnancy Act, an authorised medical practitioner may perform treatment for the 

termination of pregnancy on any pregnant woman who is one of the following:

  • (a) A citizen of Singapore or the wife of a citizen of Singapore;
  • (b) A holder, or the wife of a holder, of a work pass issued under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act; 
  • (c) A person who has resided in Singapore for at least four months immediately preceding the date of TOP.

Do Work Permit Holders Have To Remain In Singapore For At Least Four Months To Be Eligible For TOP?

No. The minimum residency requirement of four months in Singapore before the TOP (Termination of Pregnancy) does not apply to holders of permits/passes issued under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act or their spouses.

Is It Required To Check Work Permits And/Or Passes For All Women Seeking TOP?

Yes, but before executing the TOP (Termination of Pregnancy), the residency/travel documentation and/or work permit/pass should be validated. A copy of the documents should be preserved in the medical records for verification.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.