Jennifer Heng is the director of Safe Place, which offers temporary shelter to pregnant women and equips them with babycare skills. Heng, who started Safe Place in 2018, had two abortions before the age of 19 and spent years in regret. She says the shelter was birthed out of a question she often asked herself: “What kind of help would make a difference?”
Why did you choose to reach out to these women?
Every life is precious and I see it as a privilege to be able to walk this part of the journey with them. Who knows how great a destiny these women and their children would have in future? The work is emotionally draining, thankless at times and takes a toll on my personal life, but it’s worth it.
You don’t fear controversy.
Controversy encourages us to move beyond empathy, think deeper about an issue and hopefully, seek the truth. It makes us take a stand instead of being a bystander. As a society, we may have evolved and become more understanding towards unplanned pregnancies, but few talk about the regret that comes with abortion.
What keeps you going?
I push people to confront the situation more honestly. Let’s face our fears, emotions and motivations so we can work towards a better solution. For example, when I meet the man who got the woman pregnant out of wedlock, I ask him to recognise his own emotions and motivations for telling her to get an abortion. I think I have a gift for drawing out the truth, probably due to my dogged determination.
What do you want to tell naysayers?
“Can we talk about it calmly, objectively and honestly?”
This story first appeared in the October 2019 issue of A.