President Javier Milei is not involved in an attempt by six of his own party’s lawmakers to repeal Argentina’s abortion law, despite being in favour of the reform, his presidential spokesperson said Thursday.
A bill to repeal the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (IVE) Law has been presented to Congress by deputy Rocío Bonacci with five other co-signatories this week. All of those involved are from La Libertad Avanza, Milei’s party.
The Executive is seeking to distance itself from the proposal, despite the fact that it has been filed just days before Milei is due to meet Pope Francis. The Argentine pontiff, like the head of state, is a vocal opponent of abortion procedures.
Milei, who defines himself as an anti-establishment libertarian, had declared himself "against abortion because it is against the right to life" during his election campaign. However, sources in his government say they understand it is not the time to deal with it.
"It is a strictly legislative discussion, the initiative was made by deputy Bonacci,” said Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni on Thursday.
The bill "is not part of the president's agenda and is not promoted by the executive branch," he added, describing it as a personal initiative of the ruling party lawmaker.
"Today we are concerned, focused and working without any kind of breaks on much more urgent issues, and if we want to be relevant, we have to deal with this issue. This project, which was announced yesterday, is not part of the president's agenda,” said Adorni.
Milei, who defines himself as an anti-establishment libertarian, had declared himself "against abortion because it is against the right to life" during his election campaign.
In her own statements to the press, Bonacci said: "I defend life, no more, no less.”
Casa Rosada sources say the government is suspicious of the proposal presented by the legislator from Santa Fe, who is the daughter of Alejandro Bonacci, and wants to disassociate themself from it.
Feminist organisations reject the proposal and consider it a distraction from the crippling economic crisis with monthly inflation above 20 percent (211.4 percent annually in 2023) and the poverty level close to 50 percent, according to analysts' estimates.
"The presentation of this bill is ridiculous," Victoria Tesoriero, an activist with the Campaign for the Right to Safe and Legal Abortion told AFP.
"They are not going to use us as a smokescreen in this context when the government has just had a political defeat in Congress and while there is an economic recession, salaries are being liquefied by uncontrolled inflation and there is repression of protests," she said.
The law on voluntary abortion was passed in December 2020 and put into practice in January 2021 after a debate that polarised Argentine society and cut across all political lines.
It provides for the possibility of abortion up to and including 14 weeks of gestation without having to explain the reasons, as well as when the pregnancy is the result of rape and if the health or life of the pregnant woman is in danger.
The current law also provides for free post-abortion care, regardless of whether or not the abortion took place in the situations foreseen by the law, as well as access to contraceptive methods.