BUENOS AIRES – Argentine Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez denied Monday in remarks given to a radio station that the government of Cristina Fernandez this year is considering discussing legalizing abortion, an initiative that was mentioned by newly-sworn-in Health Minister Daniel Gollan.
“As chief of the Cabinet, I tell you that discussing that issue is not on the government’s agenda. Look at the opportunity to have mentioned it yesterday if the president would have felt that she needed to announce it,” said Fernandez in remarks to Radio 10.
“There is a position assumed by different elements of our political force. Within Peronism there are different ways of thinking and each person assumes and thinks what he wants. What I can tell you as Cabinet chief is that dealing with that issue is not on the agenda,” the official said.
Gollan had said earlier on Monday that he intended to promote a “serious discussion” on abortion without getting into “ideological and religious extremes” because this is one of the country’s main causes of maternal death.
In remarks to Radio Nacional Rock, Gollan said that “from the point of view of the responsibility of the ministry, one must do something.”
In that regard, he said that he will foster a “mature” dialogue with “all sectors of society” to discuss the problem in a country where some 500,000 abortions are performed each year.
The minister took Uruguay as his model, where – even before having a law on the books legalizing abortion, offices had been established to provide women with all they needed to know about the issue.
“A woman has the right to have all possible information to decide what she’s going to do about interrupting a pregnancy,” he added.
Gollan said that although this system is in operation in Argentina, it should be given “more power” so that medical teams can help patients decide “with full awareness” regarding such a serious decision as whether or not to have an abortion.
In addition, he said that in Uruguay the initiative has had “excellent results” because 30 percent of the women who initially are committed to having an abortion eventually opt not to do so because “their problems were resolved.”
According to current Argentine law, abortion may be performed without penalty if the life of the mother is in danger or in the case of rape following the guidelines of the World Health Organization, which recommends allowing abortions only up until the 22nd week of pregnancy.
Gollan was named health minister last Thursday to replace Juan Manzur.