La Nación published another extract of the interview that journalist Gabriel Sued held with Vice President Gabriela Michetti, which sparked controversy on Sunday, especially due to her statement about being against allowing women to access abortion services in cases of rape.
In this case, the journalist brought up the message that Margaret Atwood, best known for having written the ultra-bleak The Handmaid’s Tale, sent her, urging Michetti to review her stance regarding abortion.
Vicepresident of Argentina @gabimichetti: don't look away from the thousands of deaths every year from ilegal abortions. Give argentinian women the right to choose! #AbortoLegalYa #QueElAbortoSeaLey #NiUnaMenos #AbortoEnSenadoYa @cdnwomenfdn @equalitynow
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) June 25, 2018
Michetti denied knowing that Atwood had tweeted her and said she has not read her celebrated book, and when Sued explained that “it is critical to the stance of pregnant women’s being simply vessels, and not people with the right to choose over their bodies,” Michetti said:
“Well, unfortunately for some people, but a privilege for me, we are the ones that can carry a human being that has been conceived. I don’t consider it a regrettable thing, like ‘Oh, how unfortunate we have to go through this.’ On the contrary, I think it is an extraordinary gift life has given us. If we had a less individualistic society where people didn’t focus on themselves so much… I feel we would give that a lot more value. And if you can’t raise the baby because you don’t have, I don’t know, you feel like you can’t psychologically and are completely limited by that, well, then you can put it up for adoption and make a family happy. In my more than 30 years of social work, women from lower-income circles are the ones who want to have the most children and that is like empowering for them, to be mothers. I also wonder how much of the issue is being used politically, because it’s incredible what happens when you talk to women from the [villas]. They proudly tell you ‘I have seven; I have eight.’ There are a lot of philosophical issues behind this.”
After the main part of the interview was published yesterday, many were quick to compare Michetti to Aunt Lydia, one of the most infamous characters of Atwood’s novel. In the structure of Gilead, the theocracy that overthrew the United States Government in the book, Aunt Lydia is an enabler of the system by which fertile women are held captive by the families of high-ranking officials, and systematically subjected to ritual raping until conceiving. Aunt Lydia tortures the handmaids physically and psychologically into submission so they fulfill the purpose determined for them by the regime.
One can only wonder what Michetti would think about the book and the role of the character to which she has been compared.