Yesterday two pro-life Senators María Fiore Viñuales (Partido Renovador-Salta) and Guillermo Snopek (PJ-Jujuy) presented a request to prevent the Minister of Health, Adolfo Rubinstein, from speaking at the committee meeting today at 2 PM regarding the bill to decriminalize and legalize abortion. Their request was based on the assertion that his involvement would impede a fair, unbiased, and democratic process.
The call comprises two main arguments: (1) that the “active participation” of Rubinstein in the debate on the legalization of abortion “clearly affects the principles of separation of powers,” and (2) that his presentation is likely to be biased, given his alleged ties to Planned Parenthood. To the latter argument, the formal request cited a web article that links Rubinstein’s medical institute to the women’s health organization, an NGO which offers a broad range of health services and which anti-abortion groups erroneously accuse of encouraging and carrying out abortions using public funds.
The Senators presented the request to the president of the Health Commission, Mario Fiad (UCR-Jujuy) and asked to “impede the intervention as speaker” of Rubinstein, a pro-choice official, at today’s meeting in order to avoid “possible influences to the executive power that could affect the decision of the legislators.”
“In this context, it should be noted that it is publicly known that the Minister is not only acting as a speaker in the process of law-making, but is actively acting before the members of this Senate to influence their respective voting decisions,” the note reads.
“The aforementioned affirmations highlight the clear conflict that would exist in the Ministry of Health,” it concludes.
While there is little to indicate that the request will succeed in preventing Rubinstein from speaking, it will certainly serve as a topic of discussion at the start of the meeting and in future debates, possibly affecting how legislators view the arguments to be presented.
As is to be expected, people took to Twitter to share their indignation at the attempts to impede the Health Minister from presenting on an issue that is so closely linked to the country’s public health.
Former PRO lawmaker Laura Alonso found it ironic that Senators who have been accused of (and charged with) corruption would try to obstruct the proceedings:
Hay senadores condenados y procesados pero no quieren habilitar la palabra al Ministro de Salud en el debate por el #AbortoLegal. Sin remate
— Laura Alonso ? (@lauritalonso) July 24, 2018
Journalist Ingrid Beck also expressed disbelief at the turn of events:
— ? Ingrid Beck ? (@soyingridbeck) July 23, 2018
The final vote on the abortion bill is set for August 8th in Argentina’s Senate.