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Fri Nov 22, 2019, 03:36 PM

Argentine Health Secretary resigns over Macri's opposition to abortion rights

Argentine Health Secretary Adolfo Rubinstein offered his resignation today after President Mauricio Macri repealed Rubinstein's resolution seeking to improve access to abortion in cases of rape or risk to a mother's health.

The resolution would have freed girls age 13 to 16 from parental/guardian notification requirements when seeking an abortion in cases of rape or health risk, in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

But its publication yesterday caused an immediate uproar among Macri's largely right-wing supporters - with many reportedly threatening to boycott the president's December 7 "farewell" rally.

Amid a severe economic downturn, Macri was defeated for re-election on October 27 by Alberto Fernández - who is strongly pro-choice.

A century of limited abortion rights

Argentina's restrictive abortion laws, which date from 1921, have statutory health or rape exceptions - though these are often flouted by conservative judges and even doctors.

Despite legal hurdles, over 300,000 abortions are performed annually - up to 50,000 of which result in dangerous complications, and, in 2017, in 30 deaths.

A bill legalizing abortion on demand up to the 14th week was passed by the Lower House in June 2018 - but was defeated in the Senate that August.

Macri, who has long opposed abortion rights, at the time signaled support for "a debate."

But Senate President Federico Pinedo and Congresswoman Elisa Carrió - both of whom, like most of Macri's caucus, voted against the bill - later revealed that the president had intended to veto the legislation should it have passed in the senate.

Lone voice

Rubinstein, 61, was the sole prominent pro-choice figure in Macri's right-wing administration.

Appointed Health Minister in 2017 amid growing criticism over federal health cutbacks, his portfolio was demoted to a sub-cabinet secretariat in September 2018 - marking the first time since the last dictatorship in 1980 that the country lacked a health ministry.

His dismissal further strains relations within the "Let's Change" coalition between Macri's hard-right PRO and the centrist UCR, to which Rubinstein belongs.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT1&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F232455-rubinstein-renuncio-tras-la-derogacion-del-protocolo-de-abor

Argentine Health Secretary Adolfo Rubinstein and Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley during senate testimony in July over cutbacks to vaccines.

Stanley, who shares President Macri's opposition to abortion rights, clashed with the pro-choice Rubinstein - who resigned earlier today.

Rubinstein's adoption of WHO guidelines protecting basic abortion rights for girls age 13 to 16 in cases of rape or health risk, was considered "unilateral" and "wrong" by Macri.

Macri, who immediately repealed the guideline in a bid to preserve his largely pro-life base, was defeated for re-election and leaves office in 18 days.

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