Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang (Nee Soon): Sir, this Bill proposes amendments that will allow parents of a stillborn child to officially register a name for the child within one year after the stillbirth. This is an empathetic move that gives due acknowledgment to the lived, personal experiences of Singaporeans who have had the misfortune of losing their child. I thank the Government for making these positive changes.
I have two points of clarifications.
My first clarification is on the concern of misinterpretation of the stillborn threshold in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act. Minister of State Sun had earlier shared the rationale provided for increasing the threshold from the 22nd to 24th week of pregnancy is to address feedback from the medical community on potential misinterpretation of the threshold.
The feedback was that the stillborn threshold may be misinterpreted as an indication of foetal viability. This may confuse parents making difficult decisions about medical interventions for their unborn children.
Additionally, there were concerns expressed that such ambiguities lead to pressure on medical practitioners to use treatment methods that may increase the risk of severe neurodevelopmental disabilities in infants who survive or in higher rates of futile resuscitation attempts.
If there is in fact a significant risk of confusion about foetal viability, beyond increasing the threshold, can Minister of State share if the Government is looking into other steps to ensure that parents have proper information relevant to foetal viability outside the womb?
Increasing the threshold is one way to remove potentially confusing information. But it will not fully solve the problem. It is even more important to ensure that parents have accurate, scientific information to help them make emotionally charged decisions on foetal viability.
My second set of clarifications is on the naming of the stillborn child. MHA has clarified that pending the new provisions being operationalised, parents who wish to name their stillborn child may apply for a commemorative birth certificate. Can Minister of State share if parents whose stillborn are birthed in this transition period before the provisions are operationalised can apply for their stillborn child to be named once the provisions come into effect? Can Minister of State also confirm that steps will be taken to ensure that the application process for entering a name for the stillborn will be sensitively designed and easy for parents to navigate?
Sir, notwithstanding these clarifications, I stand in support of the Bill.
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