Milei rejects latest move to overturn abortion law

1 min read
Argentine President Javier Milei waves to supporters from the Casa Rosada balcony, after his swearing-in ceremony, in Buenos Aires Dec. 10, 2023. (OSV News photo/Agustin Marcarian, Reuters)

(OSV News) — Argentina’s President Javier Milei has disavowed a proposal from his own party to scrap a 2020 law decriminalizing abortion in the South American country.

Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni told reporters Feb. 8 that the proposal — introduced the night before in congress — “was not part of the president’s agenda” and did not enjoy Milei’s support.

“It’s a legislative discussion,” Adorni said. “It has not been a presidential decision and has not been pushed in any way by the executive branch.”

He added that Milei was “working tirelessly on much more urgent issues.”

Abortion in Argentina

Argentina decriminalized abortion three years ago, passing legislation that allowed for the termination of pregnancies up to the 14th week and provided access to the procedure free of charge.

Argentina’s Catholic Church joined forces with evangelical congregations in protesting the decriminalization proposal — a demand from the country’s burgeoning feminist movement — with the Argentine bishops’ conference questioning why the then-Peronist government pushed the proposal during a global pandemic.

Lawmaker Rocío Bonacci and five lower house colleagues from Milei’s La Libertad Avanza party introduced legislation to re-criminalize abortion Feb. 7. Their proposal called for penalties of up to four years in prison for women who willfully terminate their pregnancies.

The libertarian-leaning Milei took power in December on an agenda of shrinking the state and resolving an economic crisis, which plunged more than 40% of Argentines into poverty and sent inflation soaring. An omnibus bill delegating more decree powers to the president, privatizing state companies and deregulating the economy has stalled in Congress, which sent it back to committee Feb. 6.

Milei expressed a pro-life position during his 2023 presidential campaign, even though he professes libertarian proclivities.

He told The Economist magazine, “For me, abortion is qualified murder aggravated by the bond. Because it is true that the mother has the right over her body, but not over the body of the child, which is a totally different body, it has a different DNA.”

David Agren

David Agren writes for OSV News from Mexico City.