The night before the beginning of the next phase of the debate over the abortion decriminalization bill, National Deputy Elisa “Lilita” Carrió, one of its staunchest detractors, assured that President Mauricio Macri only enabled the debate because he had been told there was no chance of its being passed.
“He was told the ‘No’ was going to win easily and was communicated a need to debate it, even though there was no such need,” said Carrió in an interview with TV channel TN. Consulted about whether the government made a mistake by authorizing the debate, she said that “in any case, it was made by the deputies who thought it had to be given. [Macri] told me: ‘Lilita, I was told [the ‘No’] was going to win. When I learned the truth, I realized there was an almost naive mistake,” she added.
Nonetheless, she then made sure to clarify the President did not intervene in the Lower House debate in any way: “There are people who are upset with the President, but I can assure he did not opine even though he is against [decriminalization].”
When enabling the debate, Macri indicated that he was personally against abortion, but that it was up to Congress to decide and he was going to let the members of the Cambiemos coalition vote in accordance with their consciences.
This generated a major divide within the party, with otherwise close allies publicly engaging with each other – the Pinedo-Lospenatto affaire, for example – and government officials embroiled in deep controversies. The case of Vice President Gabriela Michetti being on the receiving end of fierce criticism for saying she would not allow abortion in cases of rape is the last and perhaps most illustrative case. Until yesterday at least, when Carrió made some statements of her own which are bound to challenge Michetti’s place at the top.
Namely, she first said she believes in women’s rights to access contraception – “I co-authored the Reproductive Health Law so we could get IUDs, etc.” – but that hospitals are not supposed to provide abortions to women who get pregnant after having sex for pleasure. “That’s not what hospitals are for,” she said.
Moreover, she argued that “we cannot celebrate a woman’s pain. In many Northern provinces, girls are given to the employer. Do you remember the Paraguayan President who had so many children [probably making reference to former President Fernando Lugo]? Giving the virginity to the Bishop was a reason to be proud. So, if I can have an abortion afterward, truth is the crime of [sexual] abuse will go unpunished,” she said, as if women having abortions would eliminate the possibility of proving and prosecuting such a crime, and forcing her to continue a pregnancy after undergoing such a situation weren’t traumatic enough. Moreover, it is important to remember – in the same way Cambiemos Deputy Daniel Lipovetzky reminded Michetti – that since 1921, women can legally access abortion services in cases of rape, such as the ones to which Carrió is making reference.
The co-founder of Cambiemos loathes the bill to an extent such that, after it was passed in the Lower House on June 14, she stormed out of the Chamber and threatened to “tear up” the coalition next time she was faced with an upset like that.