Proposal to conduct referendum on abortion triggers debate in Taiwan

The idea to limit women’s abortion right to eight weeks into pregnancy faces strong opposition from doctors

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Pixabay image

Pixabay image

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The proposal to hold a referendum on banning induced abortion for a fetus aged eight weeks or older has sparked a heated debate in Taiwan.

The Central Election Commission has ruled that a hearing must be held to clarify the issue pertaining to a proposal by a Christian group to amend regulations governing the pregnancy termination. According to the Enforcement Rules of Genetic Health Act, induced abortion should be practiced within 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The contentious subject, which involves the fetal rights and women’s rights among other ethical, religious, and biological issues, has been met with considerable opposition from medical experts on the island, reported Central News Agency.

Shih Jin-chung (施景中), an obstetrician at National Taiwan University Hospital, told CNA that the proposed bill amounted to backtracking and ran counter to the global trend of abortion practices. Prenatal development issues such as chromosomal abnormalities can hardly be determined for fetuses less than eight weeks old, he pointed out.

Chiang Kuan-yu (姜冠宇), a physician at NTU Hospital, also expressed his disbelief that the civil group recklessly submitted the proposal without showing the slightest respect and concern for mothers. Noting that medical procedures like amniocentesis are normally performed for women 16 to 20 weeks into pregnancy for diagnosis of fetal infections, he wondered whether "the proposal drafters (were) taking responsibility for the births of unhealthy babies?”

The issue should be beyond referendums as voters may not be fully informed of what is at stake when it comes to induced abortion, Dr. Shih concluded, adding “it’s absolutely outrageous to bring the subject to a national vote.”