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VP Michetti States She’s Against Abortion in Cases of Rape, Clusterfuck Ensues

By | [email protected] | July 2, 2018 3:13pm

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Vice President Gabriela Michetti saw herself embroiled in controversy – to put it mildly – yesterday, after claiming in an interview with La Nación that she personally stands against allowing women to get an abortion in case of rape.

“You can put [the baby] up for adoption, see how you feel during your pregnancy, work things out with therapy… I don’t know … I understand how much of a drama this is, but there are so many dramas in life we can’t solve that just because we’re going through this one it doesn’t mean your life is over. I mean, you can give the baby up for adoption and it’s all good,” she said.

It was not only the statement what caused the backlash, but also the levity with which she spoke, making her seem tone-deaf, insensitive, detached, and to many, outright cruel.

“She gets angry when I point these things out. But [yesterday’s] interview shows again that Gabriela Michetti is a cruel person. She might not even realize her own cruelty. She will probably come around and switch gears, late, same as she did with same-sex marriage,” reads the tweet by journalist Ernesto Tenembaum, who referenced the fact that Michetti voted against the marriage bill in 2010, when she was a National Deputy.

But this was not the only quote that made her name a trending topic on Twitter throughout the entire day and put her on the receiving end of an avalanche of criticism. Among other statements, she also said she had “several” friends who had had abortions, and she “understood it was a difficult thing” – conveying the message that she does not comprehend what could have happened to them if they had not had the resources to do so in a relatively safe (yet still clandestine) manner; and argued that the best way to reduce maternal mortality rates is by improving prevention policies – as if the proposed bill only focused on legalizing abortion so women would access the procedure as a contraceptive method.

Besides criticizing her, many journalists, politicians and activists – especially members of the pro-choice camp – also came out to rebuke the Vice President’s sayings. PRO Deputy Daniel Lipovetzky, who is a member of the same party and presides over the Health Comission in the Lower House and was one of the main moderators of the debate in the Chamber, clarified yesterday that women victims of rape have the right to have a legal abortion in cases of rape since 1921.

“A female victim of rape has the right to decide whether to have an abortion. In that case, the abortion is non-punishable. This is established in article 86 of the 1921 criminal code, when women did not even have the right to vote, and was ratified by the Supreme Court in the FAL case. The current debate is about broadening women’s rights, not limiting them!,” reads the tweet.

With regard to her call to implement prevention policies, which Michetti said “it’s something the state [of which she is Vice President] has never done,” many were quick to remind her that in 2006, Congress passed the “Ley de Educación Sexual Integral,” which, however, is far from proving a success. According to Clarín “independent reports indicate that only two out of 10 students receive sexual education regularly in school, that barely 20 percent of teachers have received training in the issue, and that there are many inconsistencies among the different provinces when it comes to implementation.”

The decriminalization bill included a last-minute article that would have officials from the province’s respective education ministries to explain what obstacles they face to implement the law. They would do so before a special commission comprised of seven deputies and seven senators, tasked with overseeing the compliance with laws about reproductive health and sexual integration, which would be created if the abortion bill ends up becoming a law.

Ever since the bill put forward by the Campaign for Legal, Safe, and Free abortion reached the Senate, Michetti positioned herself at the center of the heated debate. Before the interview, she had also made the rounds after being accused of wanting to stall the it by intending to have it discussed by two commissions that have nothing to do with the bill, in addition to the other two relevant ones. In the end, senators agreed to not include the Budget commission, presided over by PRO’s Esteban Bullrich, also a staunch detractor.

Michetti’s extreme stances even prompted writer Margaret Atwood to make a specific reference to her, calling her to not “look away from the thousands of deaths every year from illegal abortions.”

Besides presiding over the debate, Michetti would cast the decisive vote in the case of an eventual tie. For now, early polls conducted by Clarín and La Nación have diverging results. The former assures that out of the 72 senators, 30 would vote in favor, 30 against, and 12 have not decided yet. However, the latter indicated on June 28 that if the vote were to be held today, 35 members of the Upper House would vote against and 26 in favor, with 11 undecided. If this is effectively the case, all undecided senators would have to bote in favor for the bill to be passed.

President Mauricio Macri has already anticipated that even though he is personally against abortion, he would sign the bill into a law, in line with his administration’s decision to enable the debate. But if Michetti ends up having to debate, her comparisons with the character of Aunt Lydia from Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale will skyrocket even more.