One of these things is not like the other

In the recent abortion debate, the battle lines have been drawn between feminists and everyone else. In my view, this is a false dichotomy. It is possible to be pro-life and a feminist. These two ideologies are not, and have never been until recent times, contradictory. In fact, the forerunners of the feminist movement vigorously opposed abortion.

Feminism and pro-life beliefs are not incompatible for two main reasons.

First, abortion perpetuates the cycle of violence against the women. Abortion is often deceptively portrayed a simple medical procedure when it actually a disempowering act of violence first committed against women by society and then by women against their unborn children. In the developing countries like China and India, the situation is more pronounced as the strong traditional preference for boys inevitably results in more unborn baby girls being victims of abortion.

The mechanics of abortion, especially late-term abortions, are grisly and macabre. Procedures like dilation and extraction (IDX) and dilation and evacuation (D&E) involve the crushing of an unborn child’s skull and the evacuation of dismembered limbs respectively.

For the mother, an abortion can be destructive both physically and psychologically. Aside from the physical side effects and complications from the procedure, it has been proven that the decision to abort an unborn child will have a deteriorative impact on a mother’s mental health.

It is a tragedy that society does not do more to discourage abortion despite the obvious harm to women. Many pregnant mothers feel they are driven to choose abortion because of the lack of financial help, care and support. Consequently, many women are prevented from making a decision that is best for themselves and their unborn child.

Instead of curtailing the choices of women, we as feminists should be working to legislate and enact laws that will expand the avenues of support and assistance for pregnant mothers such that abortion will become an option of last resort.

Second, abortion does not add to the human rights of the mother, but rather takes away the human rights of the unborn child. It is internal inconsistent to claim that abortion, which denies another human being’s right to life, is itself a human right. An individual’s right to choose ends when another individual’s right to life begins. A human life regardless of its location – in the womb or outside of it – is imbued with the same inalienable rights as another.

Unborn children are the most vulnerable members of our society because they are hidden from plain sight and do not yet have a voice to defend themselves. However, just as we do not deny severely disabled humans the same rights and freedoms, it is discriminatory not to afford a child the right to life merely because he or she is ‘invisible’ and ‘voiceless’.

It is unjust for the life of an innocent child to be sacrificed so that his or her parents can escape the consequences of their actions. As articulated by abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who organised the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, “if we consider how women were once treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit”.

Susan B Anthony, the great American social reformer and suffragette pertinently observed that the choice to abort the child in her womb will burden a woman’s conscience in life and burden her soul in death but, “thrice guilty is he who… drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime”.

Let us as feminists, who struggle against all forms of social injustice, violence and discrimination, not turn a deaf ear to the desperation of pregnant mothers who feel driven to commit an act of violence for lack of alternative choices, familial support and financial stability. Let us walk in the footsteps of our feminist foremothers and galvanize our country to develop compassionate solutions that will put an end to the cycle of violence and give hope and a future to the most vulnerable and precious in our society.

Sesame street

One of these things is not like the other

Pro Life Rally

Pro-woman, pro-baby

Crazy Abortionists

Anti-woman, anti-baby

March For Life Marks 40th Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade

Because all women (including baby girls) deserve better

Pro-Life-Rally

Reversing the tide

 

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24-weeks to save a world

“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” (Talmud)

Recently, there was a series of articles published in the Straits Times in support of shortening the 24-week time limit for legal abortions in Singapore. Under the Termination of Pregnancy Act (Cap. 324), abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy without any restrictions. This is an invisible tragedy in our modern society where the viable gestational age is getting earlier and earlier and medical technology getting more and more advanced. It is quite common for premature babies born at 23 weeks to survive and grow up healthily, so the fact that late-term abortions at 24-weeks are still allowed should be viewed as nothing less than terrifying.

To give you a more vivid mental picture. By 24-weeks, a baby’s face will now be fully formed with eyelashes, eyebrows and hair. She has distinct fingerprints! She has toenails! She can hiccup! Although she could already hear at week 16, the organs in her ears will develop further at 24 weeks so that she can properly distinguish and recognise sounds like her mother’s heartbeat and her father’s voice. Most significantly, her tiny lungs would have matured so that she can breathe actual air rather than fluid.

How is it possible that Singapore still has a higher abortion time limit than most developed countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland? According to the 2014 Charlotte Lozier Institute report on Gestational Limits on Abortion in the United States Compared to International Norms, Singapore was identified as one of the 7 countries which permits elective abortion past 20 weeks. It is certainly not a mark of distinction to have one of the most permissive abortion laws in the world. It is more a mark of shame.

At the end of the day, as Ms Serrin Foster eloquently describes in the video below, it is possible to be pro-life and a feminist. The two are not, and have never been until recent times, contradictory positions. In fact, being a feminist (which necessitates a basic belief in social justice and non-violence) compels one to take action against the evil of abortion especially when the valuable lives of so many individual women, girls and babies are at stake.

Published articles:

Parsing the 24-week rule for abortions (Prof Tan Seow Hon)

Flawed rationale for 24-week rule on abortions (Darius Lee)

Concept of foetal viability too subjective (Edmund Leong)

Every life is precious (Dr Alan Chin)

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Ministry of Health to Make Pre-Abortion Counselling Mandatory

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced that it will make pre-abortion counselling mandatory for all women seeking an abortion. This is truly a step in the right direction. Here is the link to the news report.

Ministry of Health to Make Pre-Abortion Counselling Mandatory

SINGAPORE: The Health Ministry intends to make pre-abortion counselling compulsory for all women seeking to end their pregnancies. This comes after a month-long public consultation exercise on Pre-Abortion Counselling Criteria was completed on Dec 3.  But the ministry has not said when the change will come into effect.

The review was carried out as the Health Ministry recognised that some of its criteria needed to be in line with the shift in Singapore’s demographic and social landscape. The criteria for pre-abortion counselling was established since 1987 and has not been changed since. Currently, pre-abortion counselling is only compulsory for women who are:

  • Singaporeans and Permanent Residents
  • Those who have passed the Primary School Leaving Examination.
  • Those who have some secondary education
  • Those with fewer than three children

A cooling-off period of at least 48 hours takes place before the woman gives consent to the abortion. This allows her time to consider her options carefully before deciding.

Currently, counselling is conducted by a trained counsellor like a doctor or a nurse in institutions approved to carry out Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) under the TOP Act and Regulations. These include both public and private healthcare institutions. Unmarried pregnant women below 16 years old are counselled at the Health Promotion Board Student Centre.

In 2013, 7,177 women underwent pre-abortion counselling, and the number of pregnancies kept after counselling was about 300. There were a total of 9,282 abortions in 2013, compared to 10,624 in 2012.

While counsellors and health experts acknowledge that only a minority of women change their minds after the pre-abortion counselling, these experts say every woman still deserves the right to the counselling sessions to make a more informed decision.

“Regardless of what you feel about abortion, I suppose you wouldn’t be against the provision of information. In fact, it’s the duty of the doctor to provide such information for any procedure including this one,” said Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health.

“But I suppose because of the sensitivity of this, many people do feel there should be some legislated obligations which must be documented and this counselling process is formed. So if you believe that, then we should be agnostic who gets this counselling, because a patient is a patient regardless of how many kids you have or whether you are Singaporean or not.”

Ms Jennifer Heng has had two abortions – the first when she was 17 and another at 19. She had her abortions at a private clinic and did not receive any pre-abortion counselling.

“My first abortion was a very late-term abortion. I did not know that I was going to have to go through eight hours of induced labour until the first contractions began,” she recalled. “To my horror, at 17 years old, I realised I was going to have to go through labour pains for whatever number of hours. By that time, it was too late. I might have thought twice that if (I knew) this was the kind of pain, process I would have go through.”

She believes that more social support during the pre-abortion counselling will also be very helpful. “Social and emotional support would have really helped me. At 17 years old, unwed, a student and I can’t tell my parents because I think they will kill me, you giving me medical information doesn’t really help me,” she said. “It would have been great if the counselling included social support and assurance that there are other options, and someone to help me walk through those options. I might have chosen differently.”

– CNA/xy

Here is our submission in response to the public consultation conducted by the MOH:

(A) A Step in the Right Direction: Pre-abortion Counselling

The Ministry of Health’s (“MOH”) proposal to extend pre-abortion counselling to all women seeking an abortion in Singapore is a long awaited and very welcome change. The current criteria is not only irrelevant due to the change in Singapore’s demographics and shift in social landscape, but also discriminatory as it restricts access to further healthcare options and advice for pregnant mothers who fall into certain arbitrary categories. As such, we applaud MOH’s proposal to extend pre-abortion counselling to all women regardless of citizenship status, level of education and number of children.

First, extending counselling to all pregnant women regardless of citizenship status is a compassionate change. Even as Singapore opens her doors to more migrants, we should remind ourselves that these foreign women, whether they be transient workers or employment pass holders, deserve the same access to proper healthcare and counselling as our own mothers, sisters and daughters. Abortion is a serious irreversible decision and warrants careful consideration of the consequences.

Second, the dismantling of the distinction tied to education, which was originally introduced into our laws based on outdated concepts of eugenics and population control policies in the 1970s, is another welcome move by the MOH. While the need for population control might have been deemed necessary in the preceding generations, education on the use of proper contraception, instead of abortion, should have been the solution. As for eugenics, though it was promoted by the racist founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, we, in the modern age, should view it as an intellectual bankrupt ideology. Thus, the removal of the PSLE and secondary school criteria for pre-abortion counselling, which is incapable of being substantiated and politically incorrect, is a wise decision.

Third, providing pre-abortion counselling for all women regardless of the number of children she already has will allow for a more internally coherent government policy and better reflect the current government’s attitude towards parenthood and children. It would be contradictory if MOH were to retain such a criterion for pre-abortion counselling when other ministries are encouraging families to have three or more children.

Fourth, the expansion of pre-abortion counselling to all women seeking an abortion and not just married women is a more accurate reflection of society’s changing attitudes and growing acceptance of single mothers. While the stigma still remains, the focus should be on combating root problems in society leading to unwed mothers instead of getting rid of unwanted babies. In tandem with this, it would be meaningful if the government could consider introducing greater measures to provide single mothers, especially those who have become so inadvertently, with a stronger safety net and support system.

We note that it is widely acknowledged in the medical field that healthcare is not restricted to operative procedures and pharmaceuticals, but a holistic delivery of care. This includes various types of counselling, therapies and other types of treatment which attend to the psychological, environmental and spiritual needs of a patient. Expectant mothers should be provided with more choices especially when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant and lacking a proper support network to guide them through the process of pregnancy.

We approve of MOH’s step in the right direction and offer additional complementary measures that will ensure the effectiveness of this new change will not be diminished.

(B) Additional Measures to Consider: Training of Counsellors, Independence of Counsellors, Crisis Hotline

We proffer three suggestions to bolster MOH’s proposal to extend pre-abortion counselling to all women: (1) invest in the training of counsellors specialising in this area of pregnancy and motherhood; (2) safeguard the independence of counsellors; and (3) setting up of a crisis hotline where women can obtain help or resources that will allow them examine the full extent of the options available to them.

(i) Invest in the training of counsellors

The lack of trained counsellors and specialists would greatly reduce the efficacy of pre-abortion counselling. To meet the demands of the hundreds of pregnant women who would qualify under the expansion of the pre-abortion counselling criteria, MOH (in collaboration with other relevant ministries and/or NGOs, VWOs) should consider investing in the training of counsellors who will specialise in this area of pregnancy and motherhood. These counsellors will be able to give specific advice relating to the gestational age of the unborn child in the womb, information about foetal development, the risks of abortion, including the physical and mental side effects, etc. as well as direct pregnant women, especially those from low-income families, to the resources available to them, e.g. women’s shelters and adoption agencies

(ii) Independence of counsellors

To avoid any issues of conflict of interest, we urge MOH to enact strict safeguards to ensure the counsellors be independent parties who will have the welfare and best interest of the pregnant mother at heart. One clear restriction would be that the physician or any abortion provider scheduled to perform the abortion may not also provide the pre-abortion counselling. A clear separation between the abortionist and counsellor will protect the pregnant woman, who is often times at her most vulnerable state, from being taken advantage of by parties seeking to make a profit.

(iii) Crisis hotline

Another suggestion is the setting up of a crisis hotline (which could be manned jointly with other relevant ministries) where pregnant mothers can obtain help or resources that will allow them examine their options in a more rational manner. Women who face an unexpected pregnancy need a lot of care and support so that they will not be pressured into making decisions that more often than not have grave consequences on their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Alternatively, to avoid duplicating efforts, existing hotlines run by volunteers or non-profit organisations can be provided with funding and resources.

Supplying trained counsellors and guaranteeing their independence would serve to strengthen the pre-abortion counselling process and prevent it from becoming a time-wasting exercise or another procedural hoop for women seeking an abortion to jump through. The ultimate goal is ensure that pregnant mothers are aware of, and have access to, viable alternatives to abortion such that they may come to a decision free of unnecessary and undue pressures.

(C) Moving Forward

The MOH should consider reviewing three issues in the near future: (1) extending the mandatory waiting period beyond 48 hours; (2) introducing parental consent as a requirement for abortion for minors under 21 years of age; and (3) shortening the liberal 24-week term limit of abortion to be aligned with other developed nations, e.g. France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, etc.

We look forward to contributing to future discussions on the abortion laws in Singapore. Thank you.

Here are some links to insightful articles on the issue:

Public Consultation on Pre-Abortion Counselling Criteria (3 Nov 2014 – 3 Dec 2014) (Ministry of Health)

Provide support, comfort to all women mulling over abortion (Shelen Ang)

Pre-abortion counselling should be holistic, affirming (Darius Lee)

Don’t understate risks of abortion (Leo Hee Kian)

Consider complementary measures to pre-abortion counselling (Charis Seow)

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Let’s Redefine Feminism… For Good

Feminism has gone through so many makeovers that it’s hard to pin down exactly what it means. Back in the good old days, feminism meant raising the social status of women to that of men in the workplace, home and public square. Since the sexual revolution, however, it has taken on an angry, Artemistic slant that demands uninhibited freedom for sexual expression. (For proof, see this: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/horror-mob-of-topless-pro-abort-feminists-attacks-rosary-praying-men-defend) In other words, they want to become exactly like the men that they are both rebelling against and seeking freedom from.

Liberty – the heartbeat of feminism – has likewise been contorted over the years, as each generation sought to knobble it into conformity with the zeitgeist. The oppressed seem to go through a vicious cycle: first suffering oppression, then to social liberation, to sexual liberation (in other words, freedom from others, then freedom from self). Too often, they often end up becoming oppressors themselves. So the oppressed, oppress. “Do unto others what they did to you” – is that what feminism has become?

It seems that with every revolution, someone new gets hurt. The white vs the black, the men vs the women, women vs children, able vs disabled, born vs unborn, the religious vs the non-religious. People shove pain and hurt off like hot potatoes onto the next more vulnerable victim. Few extinguish it with forgiveness. The hot potatoes of hatred and blame heap up over those with no means or those that refuse to pass it on – the voiceless, the forbearing and the guilty.

Seeking our personal freedoms come at the expense of something else (and at times, someone else). Pure exertion of rights over other people doesn’t make this world a better place – it gives you a better place over someone else. Thus when fighting for our rights, we must always know where the limits are.

 A woman may have the right to work, but she does not have a right to trade illegally. She may have a right to speak, but not to insult. A woman can lead, and teach and accomplish things; but she should not manipulate and destroy. A woman may express her feminity, but she may not do so immodestly. She has a right to be treated with decency, but she has to earn her own respect. A woman may choose her husband and the consummation of her marriage for children, but she may not sleep around and kill the natural consequences of that at leisure.

But you say, why not? If women seek equality with men, why they should not be able to do everything that they do, vices and all?

Think about that, and think again. Women were oppressed because men had rights and powers, but they abused them. Men worked and earned money, but spent it in brothels while keeping their wives at home as child-bearing slaves. Men had all rights to speak, but they spoke derogatorily against women, manipulated their feelings and destroyed their lives. Men have need for sexual expression, but they desecrated women with their lust, despised their intrinsic beauty and worth and objectified them; impregnating them often without intention of taking responsibility for the consequences.

Are we going to fight against the effects of these vices, only to later commit them ourselves? Are we going to take part in this cycle of oppression? Or are we going to break out of it altogether?

In our post-modern and liberal society, holding on to such ideals is an archaic, prudish or even fundamentalist thing to do – something only the religious, simple-minded (often, the two are wrongfully conflated) and the unadventurous keep to. But in doing so, society has lost so much more than its ideals – it has lost its very soul. It has forgotten how to respect and honour. To treat others with dignity, love and kindness. And although that is what everybody really wants, all we do seems to further destroy our ability to respect ourselves, and to respect others. It is hard to respect others without respecting yourself, and it is hard to respect yourself without taking up responsibility for one’s actions and living consistently with one’s values. 

So instead of trying to earn respect, we simply changed our ideals. We sought our empowerment no longer in strength of character, but in Fame. Riches. Power. Sympathy. Rights. Sexuality. Yet there are so many that have achieved all these, and still conclude that it does not satisfy. The human soul was not meant to live on a diet of substitutes. Sadly, so many die in the worthless fight of trying to defy nature. So many spend their lives seeking answers that only death will bring.

But women can rise above that. We can die to our desire to be wanted and known, especially when the attention we crave comes packaged with evil circumstances. We can achieve what the men failed to do – to fully realize our destinies as a dignified, respected sex. To respect ourselves by bringing our souls under control, and then teaching others how to. To respect others by hating evil but loving its vessel. To be gracious and merciful. To hold freedom and power with hands of justice, humility and restraint.

 That, I think, is true feminism. 

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Little India Riots: Chaos Again After 40 Years of Calm

I can’t believe a riot has happened in Singapore. Police cars being toppled, an ambulance set on fire, smashing of windows of a bus, mobs attacking each other and the authorities. The last riot we had was in the 1964 race riots. It is really surreal to watch it on the news and catching snippets of the action on social media. Singapore has zero tolerance for this kind of lawless and criminal behaviour and I hope the police will be able to complete their investigations and bring the offenders to justice.

We don’t have all the information yet but I am saddened by all the xenophobic responses from netizens in particular. Even though the riot took place at Little India and involved mainly South Asians, there is no excuse for making racist comments and generalisations.

These Indian and Bangladeshi construction workers are the same who build our houses, shopping malls and offices. They have left the comfort and familiarity of their homes and have come to Singapore to earn money to send home to their desperate families. Most of them come from extremely impoverished circumstances and to make things worse, the living conditions they have here in Singapore are not exactly ideal, with most of them sleeping and eating in cramped, unhygienic quarters.

I hope the government will not just arrest the troublemakers but also take the time to re-assess the way we are hiring, treating and paying our foreign workers. It is not an excuse for their behaviour but it should not be an excuse to make unfounded attacks on their entire race or country.

I pray that there will be peace in Singapore and that the authority of chaos will be broken. I pray that chaos and blind hatred will not reign supreme, but justice and order will prevail. I pray that our leaders will be able to make the right decisions with wisdom and compassion.

“On Dec 8 at 2123 hrs, a fatal traffic accident occurred between a private bus and a person at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. Shortly after, a riot broke out involving a crowd of about 400 subjects where the subjects damaged 5 police vehicles and 1 ambulance. Several other private vehicles were also damaged. 10 officers were injured.

“Police activated resources from Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent to the scene and the situation is under control. 

“Police would like to advise the public in the area to remain indoors while police operations are ongoing. Other members of the public are advised to keep away from the vicinity. Members of the public are also advised to stay calm and not to speculate on this incident. Members of the public with any information of the riot are advised to call the police at 1800-2550000.

“Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, said, “This is a serious incident which has resulted in injuries and damage to public property. the situation is now under control. Police will spare no efforts to apprehend the subjects involved in the riot.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IFodlpw9H8

Related articles

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Expand Criteria for Pre-Abortion Counselling

I refer to the article “Number of abortions in Singapore fell in last six years” by Andrea Ong (13 Nov 2013).

I was very heartened to read about the general decline in total number of abortions in Singapore, especially among teenagers.

The report states that around four per cent of women had a change of heart after receiving pre-abortion counselling and chose not to go through with the abortion. Such a figure, no matter how small, represents the many brave decisions that women made to save precious lives.

For this reason alone, it would be beneficial to make it mandatory for every single woman seeking abortion in Singapore to undergo pre-abortion counselling.

Currently, foreigners, rape victims or Singaporeans with three or more children, and those who have not passed the PSLE are excluded from this requirement.

While I applaud our government’s efforts to establish safeguards from those who wish to take advantage of our liberal abortion laws, I hope the Ministry of Health would consider making pre-abortion counselling available to all those presently excluded from the criteria.

Pregnant women seeking an abortion usually face great pressure from external sources, such as socio-economic factors. The decision to keep a child or abort one should never be made lightly, and these vulnerable women deserve the same standard of care, and should be made aware of all the alternatives to abortion.

I strongly support the Ministry of Health’s initiative to review the Termination of Pregnancy Act. A suggestion for the review committee to take into consideration would be to shorten the time limits for abortions as the current cap at 24 weeks is too high.

With increased medical information about foetal responses to pain starting from as early as eight weeks to 13 1/2 weeks gestation at the latest, depending on the development of the foetus’ nervous system, we should consider amending our abortion laws to match the new heights set by our scientific discoveries and medical capabilities.

The law undoubtedly plays a large role in shaping the attitudes, practices and expectations of society. Accordingly, our abortion laws should send a message that couples should not use abortion as a form of birth control. This change will not only encourage the use of responsible contraception but also go towards reducing the high levels of promiscuity among our youth.

An edited version of this article was published in the Straits Times Forum Page (14 November 2013).

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One of Us

One of Us

“One of Us” is one of the first registered ECIs in the European Union. It’s goal is to greatly advance the protection of human life from conception in Europe – within the possibilities of the competency of the EU. Based on the definition of the human embryo as the beginning of the development of the human being, which was given in a recent ECJ judgment (Brüstle vs. Greenpeace), “One of Us” asks the EU to end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health. See more at: http://www.oneofus.eu

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Women Belong in the House (and Supreme Court)

THIS is something to celebrate.

The percentage of women in Singapore’s Parliament is better compared to a decade ago and it is more important to anchor political representation on meritocracy rather than impose gender quotas, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling said on Tuesday.

Out of 99 seats in the House, 25 are currently occupied by women.

“So in terms of percentage, we are doing better compared to a decade ago. Percentage wise, 25.4, and this compares very favourably to the inter-parliamentary union of 21.4 per cent,” Ms Low told Parliament.

She was responding to Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, who had pointed to a recent World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report that said Singapore ranked low in terms of political empowerment.

“While we scored fairly well, 47 out of 136 for MPs, in terms of Cabinet, we are really far down,” Ms Lim said.

“It’s 125 out of 136 countries. And I would like to know whether we will improve in this.

“Instead of having just one lady minister out of 18 currently in the last few decades, do we expect any improvement in this area?”

Ms Low, in her response, stressed that that it was “more important” that the system is based on meritocracy, rather than on policies such as quota limits.

Ms Lim, who is also Workers’ Party chairman, had tabled a question asking if the Government was satisfied with Singapore’s scores in the report.

womansplace

Even though we don’t have a House, Senate or Oval Office, the message this button delivers can be translated to our local context. We should inspire our daughters, younger sisters and friends to dream big, which can include serving our country and people as a Member of Parliament or sitting on the bench as judge of the Singapore Court of Appeal.

Now if only liberal feminist groups in Singapore could latch onto news like this instead of constantly harping on less pressing matters like sex educationthat would be definitely the occasion to bring out the champagne.

roflbot

 

 

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How to Save a Life: Drop in Number of Abortions in Singapore

The number of abortions in Singapore has gone down by 12% in the last 6 years (2006 – 2012).

Another great piece of news! Hopefully as more Singaporeans get educated on the devastating impact of abortion, and as more initiatives to counsel pregnant mothers are being made available, the number of aborted babies in Singapore will decrease even further. While I suspect our plummeting birth rates is the prime motivator for our government to take action against abortion, I hope that more will see the truth of the matter – that aborting an unborn baby is no different from infanticide. Abortion hurts everyone: from the developing baby in the womb to the pregnant mother to society at large. In reviewing our liberal abortion laws and strengthening pre-abortion counselling, our country has certainly taken a step in the right direction to eradicate the most pressing civil rights violation of our generation. Because if not now, then when? And if not us, then who?

The number of abortions carried out in Singapore has gone down by about 12 per cent from 2006 to 2012, while there has been a sharper decline of 44 per cent in abortions carried out for girls aged below 16 over the same period.

Responding to Mr Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC) in Parliament on Tuesday, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said 10,624 abortions were carried out last year, down from 12,032 in 2006.

Of these, 84 abortions were carried out on girls aged below 16 in 2006. The number dropped to 47 last year.

While the Termination of Pregnancy Act requires most women, regardless of age, to go for pre-abortion counselling, Dr Khor said just about four per cent change their minds after the counselling. This could be because of the different reasons women may have for undergoing abortions, such as being unmarried or divorced, having enough children or feeling they are not ready to start a family, she said.

Responding to Mr Yam’s worry that Singapore may become a “regional abortion hub” due to its more liberal abortion laws than other countries in the region, Dr Khor said the law already has safeguards to prevent foreigners from coming into Singapore just for an abortion.

Medical practitioners can carry out abortions for foreigners only if they are the spouse of a Singapore citizen or work pass holder, if they are work pass holders themselves, or if they have resided in Singapore for at least four months before the date of the abortion.

The Health Ministry is also in the midst of reviewing guidelines for the Termination of Pregnancy Act, specifically on the issues of strengthening pre-abortion counselling, the critera for mandatory counselling as well as the counselling content, said Dr Khor.

Abortion-Slavery

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Building Firewalls: MDA Blocks Ashley Madison

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has blocked access to the controversial Ashley Madison website in Singapore. 

I am thankful my fellow citizens have rallied together these past weeks to take a stand against organisations and businesses that seek to profit from broken marriages and families. I am thankful for the numerous channels we can go through to take our petitions to our Members of Parliament. I am thankful that our Singapore government heard our concerns and responded swiftly to the vocal protests from the community. Most of all, I am thankful that because of this pre-emptive move, more marriages will be preserved and more children will be protected from the destruction and grief of divorce.

Marriages and families go through tough times, so although we cannot put out every single fire, we can all do our part to to build firewalls around our families and nation.

In a statement on Friday evening, MDA said it is against the public interest to allow Ashley Madison to promote its website in flagrant disregard of family values and public morality.

MDA said the government adopts a pragmatic and light-touch approach to regulating Internet content.

The Internet Code of Practice allows MDA to work with Internet service providers to block certain sites which contain prohibited content.

But MDA recognises that site blocking is not a perfect way of denying access to prohibited content as it can be circumvented.

MDA added that there are many sites with undesirable content on the Internet and it is not practical to block every one of them.

It therefore blocks a limited number of sites as a symbolic statement of the types of content which the community is opposed to.

MDA said the Ashley Madison website, however, stands out as it aggressively promotes and facilitates extramarital affairs and has declared that it will specifically target Singaporeans.

It noted that the website founder had given an interview to a local newspaper and apparently said he intends to fly into Singapore to launch the Singapore site in the week of November 17.

The National Family Council (NFC) welcomes the move by MDA to block Ashley Madison from launching in Singapore.

NFC said it has been consistent in taking a firm stand against the website since news broke in October that it plans to launch a local edition.

It said it believes that such websites are detrimental to the foundations of a family.

NFC added it does not welcome any website that undermines the trust and commitment in a marriage.

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Ashley Madison Singapore? Can we not.

Mypaper published an article today “It shatters marriages. It’s a business. It’s coming.” (23 October 2013) about a new website for people seeking relationships. However, this is no ordinary dating website. It is specifically for people who are ALREADY married. Meet Ashley Madison. Tag line? Life is short. Have an affair. 

Singaporean couples, already battling the stresses and strains of a hectic urban lifestyle, must brace themselves for a new threat to their relationships: The innocuously named Ashley Madison, a website that facilitates extramarital affairs, plans to launch here. It has been labelled a business built on broken hearts and ruined marriages. Meanwhile, relationship experts are worried.

It would be a disastrous thing for our country if such a website were to be introduced into Singapore. It is already hard for so many Singaporean couples to keep their marriages intact due to the external pressures of society and the stressful lifestyles we all lead, and the fact that it is much easier to cheat on your spouse whether emotionally or physically in the highly-connected, technologically advanced world we live in today.

While Ashley Madison may not be technically illegal, as adultery itself is not a crime, the potential damaging impact of such a website is wide-ranging. It does not take a genius to see how a website that encourages spouses to cheat will lead to extra-marital affairs which will ultimately lead to a breakdown of marriages and higher rates of divorce.

Trish McDermott, a consultant who helped found Match.com, rightly points out that behind the innocuous name and hot pink layout, Ashley Madison is a “business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages and damaged families”.

This is true. Ashley Madison’s business model will do infinitely more harm than good. This whole concept of abetting cheating spouses is harmful because it treats the covenant of marriage as something which can be easily disregarded and discarded. Instead of putting emphasis and value on trust and commitment within marriages, such websites will have the opposite effect and bring chaos into fragile homes.

Already, without the help of cheating websites, divorce rates in Singapore have been skyrocketing. One in four marriages end up in divorce and there are also more reported incidents of family violence. When a catalyst like Ashley Madison is brought into the picture, it is very likely that these rates of divorce and family violence will only increase. Why continue to celebrate or glamorise cheating when we know of the severe emotional pain it brings?

The Singapore government has always said that families are the basic building block of society. If we take a more lax attitude towards infidelity in marriage and adultery, we will only weaken the foundation on which our society stands. People in Hong Kong, where Ashley Madison has been introduced recently, have been vocal in their complaints. We believe those concerned in Singapore should do likewise and let the government and those with the power to exercise cyber censorship know how we feel about Ashley Madison.

As our Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said at the Family Justice Practice Forum, “What we must ultimately aim for is an eco-system in which we will hear clearly the voice of the child so that the child’s best interests are appropriately addressed; and where disputes and differences are resolved in a sensible and non-technical manner with a measure of heart, compassion and sympathy.”

Such an eco-system that the Chief Justice envisioned cannot be cultivated when so-called dating websites like Ashley Madison are given the freedom to facilitate adultery. It certainly does not place paramount importance on the welfare of Singaporean children, and will ultimately only bring pain and trauma to countless of husbands and wives and cause the destruction of many families.

Instead of allowing the building blocks of society to crumble away, let us take a more proactive stance and petition our leaders to block such a website from being introduced to our shores. Singapore has never shied away from controversial positions before – we need to protect what we need to protect – and we do not expect anything less for this impending attack on the family and institution of monogamous marriage.

The dating website for cheating spouses

The dating website for cheating spouses

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Attacking the Abstinence Scapegoat

AWARE is at it again!

In their recent roundtable discussion on women, AWARE put sex education in the spotlight, with the main focus on the harmful constructions of young women in some sex education curricula.

Here are some snippets from the article:

Cate Smith’s research on abstinence-only sex education showed that not only do such curricula often disseminate false facts on contraception failure rates, but also promote very harmful images of young women and their behaviour.

“Every guy wants a wife who is beautiful inside out”, says one of the sex-ed pamphlets Cate collected in her study, describing a woman who has premarital sex as a person without character, tainted with diseases.

I think we can all agree that while there may be differing views on what ‘every guy wants‘, it is not illogical to believe that someone ‘tainted with diseases‘ is not very high up on their list. I do not understand why such pamphlet are being heralded as sex education gone wrong. This has nothing to do with gender constructions; it is purely, and first and foremost, a public health issue.

Engagement in premarital (and extramarital) sex increases the rates of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. This is a scientifically-proven fact. Saying anything otherwise is akin to deliberately turning a blind eye to the volumes of statistical data on this issue regardless of your moral inclinations. This has got to stop.

We are invariably hurting more young men and women by pretending STDs are a non-issue in the equation. Let’s not kid ourselves. 2 plus 2 is not 5. Abstinence is undeniably the most effective preventive tool against teenage pregnancies, extramarital sex. It is a shame we have to live in a world that literally discards science due to the need to be political correct.

Another point is that AWARE has a false understanding and a misrepresentation of values-based sexual education. Maybe this is the case in the USA, but it is not so in Singapore! Obviously, when AWARE invited a guest speaker from the US, they should have known that a direct comparison of what is being taught in schools abroad and locally would not be possible. It seems as if the self-proclaimed feminists of AWARE themselves do not fully appreciate what values-based education is and yet is so quick to pass judgment on it.

In values-based sex education, women are NOT depicted as being devoid of sexual agency. On the contrary, an important distinction is made between adult women who are free to have sex, preferably within the confines of a loving marriage, and girls (children to teenagers) who are not mentally and physically prepared to engage in sex because they cannot fully grasp the implications.

Instead of trying so hard to ’empower’ women to be as sexually active as men, AWARE should consider empowering men by teaching them about exercising self-control and restraint over their baser urges. Perhaps then we could avoid tragedies such as the case of Ong Theng Kiat – a 63-year-old gynaecologist who ruthlessly took advantage and sexually exploited a 14-year-old schoolgirl and tried to cover his tracks with an abortifacient.

It is a bit of a mental stretch to believe that all young girls, barely out of puberty, need to be given so much information about sex. Intellectual curiosity is always a good thing to have, but a comprehensive sex education would only burden them with too much knowledge at too young an age.

My personal counter-proposal is to spend less time discussing ‘sexual agency’ and more time on encouraging and inspiring girls to think about their personal development, interests and career.

I would think young girls would rather spend a day visiting an interactive science museum and learning about the wonders of the stars and the universe, or take part in a confidence-building drama and dance workshop, rather than observing a person drone about gender constructions in a stuffy classroom.

We have to stop thinking young girls need to be re-educated in the liberal strain of thought. Instead of telling them about how women are viewed as victims in sexual attacks, why not let them feel empowered by speaking to a female judge, prosecutor and policewoman? Instead of telling girls about how men are systematically shirking from responsibility, and reinforcing this stereotype, how about introducing them to good male role models who love their wives and family and have made sacrifices to keep their family together?

AWARE must stop attacking the abstinence scapegoat. Just because they feel uncomfortable advocating a certain conservative position does not mean it has no merit at all. Moreover, they cannot be blind to science and logic and their good friend, common sense (who has been taking a long vacation of late), which clearly states that sex has consequences whether we like it or not.

Ultimately, good sex education starts at the home. Parents play a large and extremely valuable role as gatekeepers; they must not only protect their children’s innocence, but also function as role models for them. Without parental guidance and education, a solid foundation will not be built, and a child will turn to classmates (who almost always are the wellspring of wrong answers) and other unsavoury sources of information, namely the Internet, to satisfy their curiosity. This, I can reasonably foresee, will only end up doing more harm than good.

This is part of a series: (Gender Constructions: Part I)

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The Conundrum of The Ex-Gay Bias

The article ‘Why Gays Cannot Speak for Ex-gays‘ by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi on the existence and prevalence of the ex-gay bias is rather illuminating. He was invited to be interviewed by a British television network about efforts concerning sexual-orientation change but declined the offer after finding out the show’s host was a gay man. Dr. Nicolosi writes:

To refuse participation because the host is gay may seem unreasonable, until we recognize that the adoption of a gay identity typically prevents someone from honestly assessing the experience of the other man who has taken a different developmental route– i.e., the ex-gay person.

He then goes on to describe the general coming-out process that most gay people go through with stunning simplicity and clarity, revealing that this entire experience contributes to the formation of an inherent bias:

According to the literature, the “coming out of the closet” process begins in early adolescence with the discovery of same-sex attraction. The teenager then usually rejects his homosexual feelings because of the negative social values around him. His painful and lonely efforts to suppress, repress and deny his feelings result in guilt and shame, which eventually culminates in self-loathing.

But shortly thereafter, this teenager discovers that there are others like him, and often through the support and encouragement of a gay counselor, coach, teacher or religious leader, he decides that gay is “who he is.” The adoption of this gay identity necessitates the abandonment of any hope that he could ever modify his unwanted feelings and develop his heterosexual potential. He must surrender his earlier wish that he could have a conventional marriage and family. So in order to internalize this gay identity he must mourn the possibility of ever resolving his unwanted homosexuality; i.e., he must grieve the loss of what he yearned for.

It is this process of grieving his own hopes and mourning his own dreams which prevents the person who later identifies as gay from believing that change is possible for others: “If I myself could not change, how could they?” Perhaps on a deeper level, this thought is also rooted in anger: “If I cannot have what I wanted for my own life, neither should they.”

I found this extremely insightful because I never really knew why ex-gays were treated with so much disdain (and sometimes outright revulsion) by other people who identified as lesbian or gay. They are viewed by gays as sexually confused people at best and ‘traitors’ to the cause at worst. This article has certainly cast some light on the rationale behind the dislike and discrimination ex-gays face.

Ultimately, I think this boils down to whether you believe homosexuality is determined by your genes at birth or a gender identity disorder; whether it is a preference encoded in your DNA or a type of psychological problem that requires medication and therapy. If you think homosexuality is an in-born trait, then you would denounce ex-gays as people who are repressing their natural instincts, whereas if you think same-sex attractions are learned behaviour or due to a psychological disorder, then the existence of ex-gays would not be totally inconceivable and in fact, proof that homosexuality is more of a choice than immutable characteristic.

The words of Loh J. in the recent case of Tan Eng Hong v. Attorney-General [2013] SGHC 199 at para. 63, 64 are telling of the general attitude towards homosexuality in Singapore:

In summary, having perused some of the past and contemporaneous medical and other scientific literature available, I am unable to agree with Mr Ravi that homosexuality is, on a balance of probabilities, a natural and immutable attribute. I am satisfied that the medical and scientific evidence has been for some time and remains to this day divided and inconclusive at best. A full appreciation of the controversy in this field leads me to the inevitable conclusion that given the way the Plaintiff has chosen to conduct his case, I am simply not in an appropriate position to pronounce on whether homosexuality is a human attribute or a result of nurture or a lifestyle choice, much less on whether it is immutable or not.

Consequently, since I am unable to find for Mr Ravi on the factual assertion that homosexuality is a natural, immutable attribute, the next stage of Mr Ravi’s submission – viz, that legislation criminalising conduct which is tied to a natural and immutable human attribute is absurd and against the fundamental rules of natural justice – is moot.

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When men go astray

I refer to the article “Consider harsher penalties to deter paid underage sex” (23 September 2013) by Seah Leong Khai.

While I agree with the author that punishment for paid underage sex should be made more severe to ensure effective deterrence, it is also necessary to supplement enforcement with a cultural change. I believe that the root issue is the favouring of values of promiscuity and pleasure over faithfulness, self-restraint and selflessness.

We should seek to create a conducive environment which will inspire Singaporean husbands to be faithful to their wives and play the lead role in building a strong and loving home.

Instead of glorifying extra-marital sexual exploits in the media or treating such moral lapses as if they are inevitable, we should celebrate the men who have chosen to make a lasting commitment to their families.

One example is the viral video “The Devoted Husband” featuring Mr. Kenneth Liew, who is honouring his wedding vows to his wife despite her being in a coma for the last five years.

Additionally, we must encourage husbands to foster better relationships with wives and ensure open channels of communication. This way, the men can find adequate support within the family for his problems and desires, without seeking external “comfort” or satisfaction by exploiting other women.

As fathers, men can also set good examples by rejecting the prevalent culture of promiscuity and teaching their children to seek healthy, stable relationships rooted in love and respect instead.

The ills of underage sex, commercial or non-commercial, will not disappear overnight unless we make corresponding changes in both our law and our culture before it destroys even more lives and families.

It is impossible to separate this issue of underage commercial sex with the problem of transnational sex trafficking in Singapore. Women, including underage girls, from developing countries in Asia, are lured here by unscrupulous pimps and agents through trickery, deceit or the promise of a decent-paying job which would help support their families back home.

These women are often exploited because of their poverty and poor education. They also often take out huge loans in order to come here to work. After realising that they were tricked, they have no choice but to sell their bodies to repay the loans.

While the immigration authorities and police force are doing their very best to thwart the deluge of illegal traffickers and break the chain of supply, it is only logical to enhance the punishment for the male customers to ensure deterrence and so that the tireless efforts of law enforcement officers will not be undermined.

It is not enough to cooperate and share information with the counterpart authorities of the trafficked women’s countries of origin, or to introduce stricter sentences. The eradication of the culture of exploitation of women among our men and boys must begin at home.

Similar to the issue of commercial underage sex, the government should not just focus on the anti-vice component of sex trafficking but also give proper attention to pro-family initiatives that seek to reverse the trend.

The evils of transnational sex trafficking and underage prostitution can only be eradicated when both the sources of demand and supply dry up.

 

This is a longer version of an article that was published in TODAY.

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Migrant Workers’ Centre opens second help centre in Geylang

This is really awesome news! Goodness knows we need more of these kind of services among the ever-growing migrant community in Singapore. From the volunteers who went about distributing free masks during the terrible haze period to kind souls who provide free legal and medical services for the often neglected and marginalised foreign workers, Singapore, keep it up!

Helping Hands

From Channel News Asia:

SINGAPORE: Migrant workers in Singapore will soon be able to get free legal advice on non-employment issues at a new help centre located in Geylang.

The centre, which was opened on Sunday, is the second of its kind run by the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) – a non-government organisation.

The free legal services are being offered by the MWC for the first time. It will be in the form of monthly clinics by the MWC in collaboration with the Pro Bono Services Office of the Law Society of Singapore.

At the launch of the Geylang help-centre, MWC said personal legal issues could have a negative effect on a worker’s mental and emotional health, and this could in turn affect his ability to work.

MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said: “We recognise that many of them are not aware of the legal rights, and also our legal procedure. Whenever they have problems, some of them even take matters into their own hands. I think we should avoid this by providing more platforms or channels to assist them.”

Mr Yeo said most migrant workers cannot afford to engage lawyers.

A typical consultation could easily cost them at least two months’ salary. This is a big amount of money for them as many have also substantial debts to repay.

And migrant workers have welcomed the free legal aid.

“This will help me in future, as I would be able to understand Singapore law better, and to better defend my interest and rights,” said Bian Wei Feng, a migrant worker from China.

The Law Society, which is working with the MWC at the new centre, has seen a steady number of migrant workers approaching them for help over the years.

Lim Tanguy, director of Pro Bono Services at The Law Society of Singapore, said: “We run the criminal legal aid scheme, and that is typically for cases where foreign workers (are) in some form of criminal trouble so we have been assisting them with free defense counsel.”

The Law Society will be engaging lawyers to volunteer their services for MWC’s legal clinic.

The legal advice service in the form of once-a-month clinics will be offered to migrant workers from next month.

Although the frequency may be adjusted based on demand, the Aljunied MRT is just about 100 metres away from the new Migrant Workers’ Centre. During weekends, many China workers congregate on the field next to the MRT station. With this new location, more migrant workers can come to the centre for help.

Mr Yeo added MWC will continue to offer advice on employment-related issues.

So far, the Centre has managed more than 7,000 cases, and half of them involved workers from China. It’s stepping up outreach efforts to them.

MWC is also beefing up its existing Rangoon Road centre.

It will be relocated to Serangoon Road next year, and the bigger centre will be able to accommodate and help more migrant workers.

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Future Generations Will Look Back With Disgust

Future Generations Will Look Back With Disgust

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Sex-Ed: Home Ground Advantage

The main problem with sex education in Singapore is not the school’s choice to teach abstinence, but rather, the general lack of parental supervision and guidance at home. Many fathers and mothers have abrogated their responsibility by leaving all aspects of their child’s education to the teachers. This is a cultural practice that must be frowned upon, especially since studies have shown that parents can be extremely effective communicators on topics such as sex and relationships.

It is important, and conducive, for sex education to take place in the home. I am of the view that families should have a greater say in what is being taught about sex, and parents be given the freedom to convey to their son or daughter their own ideas of what sex is and should be about. The government should also seriously consider equipping the parents with educational materials to help them broach the topic at the right time, and teach their children about love, relationships and sexuality.

As the Ministry of Education has recognised, parents are vital stakeholders and should be responsible for the health and moral values of their children. When fathers and mothers are encouraged to play a more active role, greater levels of trust will be built between parent and child. When this valuable trust is gained, children will be more comfortable approaching their parents for advice in the future.

The increasingly casual attitudes towards sex among our youths should not be confronted by a form of sex education that adopts a defeatist mentality. We must have faith that values-education does have a tremendous positive impact on a child’s development as an individual.

I believe that a state-family collaborative approach that places the onus on families to inculcate the virtues of abstinence before marriage will be the solution to many of the ills that our youths currently face, such as the rising rates of teenage pregnancies and increasing number of youths contracting STDs.

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Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005)

Pope John Paul II

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End the Culture of Exploitation

I refer to the article “Gynae admits to two counts of underage sex with 14-year-old” by Elena Chong, (10 Sep 2013).

The despicable offences committed by Ong Theng Kiat are not just manifestations of his unlawful sexual desires but also reveal a culture of exploitation in our society.

Ong’s actions reflect a lack of responsibility and remorse; not only did he have full knowledge that his victim was 14 at the time he statutorily raped her, but he also gave her two morning after pills and even forced her to eat one in his car to ensure he would not have to bear the consequences in the event she became pregnant.

Moreover, his predatory actions are especially repugnant in light of the fact he is a doctor, a member of a noble profession who make an oath to ‘first do no harm’ and in whom the public places much trust and respect.

Aside from the perpetrator, there is also the question of the girl’s parents: where were they when all of this was happening? If the parents of the girl had only known about what was going on in their daughter’s life, and they could have intervened to cut off all contact between the two and this tragic case of exploitation could have been avoided.

While the specific circumstances of each case and the hardships faced by each family may be different, it is regrettable that many Singaporean parents are often so caught up with their career and busy lives that they fail to pay attention to the needs and habits of their children.

Parents everywhere should make the effort to spend quality time with their sons and daughters, construct open channels of communication, and build strong, lasting relationships.

It is patently obvious that we as a society have failed to adequately protect our children from predators such as Ong.

One way we can rectify this mistake is to ensure we develop appropriate prevention strategies to target children and youth on proper types of relationships, the serious consequences of engaging in casual sex, as well as the dangers posed by Internet predators who hide behind anonymity to avoid detection and who create a fictitious personality to emotionally exploit them.

Another way we can protect our children from predators is by instituting stronger policies and safeguards on dating websites like C-Date. The existing defenses are clearly insufficient as they allowed a 63-year-old predator to meet, groom and take advantage of an impressionable 14-year-old student.

Additionally, we could introduce harsher penalties for such online wolves in sheep’s clothing.

This would hopefully staunch the flow of this underlying current of exploitation, and shield our most vulnerable from the most devious.

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Abortion does not make you un-pregnant

Abortion does not make you un-pregnant

Abortion does not make you un-pregnant, it makes you the mother of a dead baby.

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