Argentina’s Vice President, and head of the Senate, Gabriela Michetti decided Thursday to send the bill to legalize abortion to four different senate commissions before it can be voted on. A decision that was criticized by the feminist movement as an attempt to delay the vote.
Michetti, who has served in the role since 2015, "unnecessarily" requested two commissions, headed by opponents of the legalization, to review the bill that would allow for safe, legal and free abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
The commissions are the Budget and Revenue Commission presided over by Esteban Bullrich and the Constitutional Matter Commision headed by Dalmacio Mera. Bullrich and Mera have both been vocal in the objection to the bill, which activists have said is a women's health issue and shouldn't be seen as budgetary or constitutional matter.
After the announcement, the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortions demanded an end to the delays and a prompt debate on the legislation.
In an official statement, the campaign argued the bill did not need to go to the budget and revenue commission. “In several declarations, the health minister, Adolfo Rubinstein, affirmed that a new budget was not required for the health system to meet the demand.”
The campaign also argued that during the months of debate leading up to the vote in the lower chamber of Congress the constitutionality of the bill was established, “so sending it to constitutional matter is an unproductive action.”
The other two Senate committees that will discuss the bill are the Health and Justice Commissions.
Protest against Michetti’s decision was also voiced by several senators, who believe the move for additional scrutiny is unwarranted given that the lower chamber approved the bill after months of debate.
Miguel Pichetto, leader of the Federal Argentina parliamentary bloc, said the measure was unnecessary and “totally excessive.” He also proposed a vote be held to approve the bill’s review by the four commissions.
“The decision responds to the vice president’s personal belief, with the goal to delay the debate indefinitely," he said.
The campaign has organized a protest for Tuesday. “We want no more delays. We demand it after 13 years of struggle, in which we achieved social decriminalization and social support that expressed itself with a million people in the streets on June 13 and 14. This is why we consider the move undemocratic. Every day that goes by, the Argentine state is condemning women to being criminalized and to access abortions in illegality, risking their lives and health,” the statement reads.