Argentina's former ambassador to the Vatican, Eduardo Valdés, has predicted that it is inevitable the country will legalise abortion in the coming years, despite last week's controversy President Mauricio Macri’s recent decision to strike down and annul new guidelines for non-punishable procedures.
Tensions in the government rose last week after President Macri rolled back new guidelines issued unilaterally by Health Secretary Adolfo Rubinstein less than 24 hours earlier. The UCR politician was seeking to update the protocol for non-punishable procedures in Argentina, but the row ended in the official's resignation.
At present, abortion in Argentina is only allowed when pregnancy is a result of rape, or if the woman’s life is in danger, but Valdés sees big change ahead. He claims that, not only will abortion be legal in Argentina, but that even Pope Francis will “understand” a push to decriminalise the procedure.
Valdés, speaking to a local radio station, argued that even in the most traditionalist Catholic nations, legal abortion is not the end of the world.
“In Italy, in the Holy City, Rome, Abortion is legal and nobody has been excommunicated. And you know when it was legalised?” explained the Mercosur lawmaker in a chat on the show Antes y Después on La Once Diez,
“With Pope Paul II at the head of the pontificate and [Joseph] Ratzinger (subseqently known as Pope Benedict) as the great censor. Things happen, I dial down the drama. These are discussions that seem archaic to me already,” said the former ambassador, who was Argentina's envoy to the Holy See between 2014 and 2015.
“Civil society is going one way and religion the other," the Frente para la Victoria (FpV) continued. "I say this being that I’m no green fanatic, but I understand where society is going.”
Valdés holds more conservative beliefs concerning the ethics of abortion, but maintained that nobody should be punished for having a different view.
“My belief is that when there is an embryo, there is life; I have wanted to deconstruct my point of view, to see if there were any other way to see it and I have not been able to,” Valdés said. “Sincerely, I think that he who disagrees with me does not have to be imprisoned.”
The Mercosur lawmaker’s reasoning was echoed by President-elect Alberto Fernández following Macri’s sharp rejection of Rubenstein’s update.
“We should respect the woman who feels she has the right to make decisions, like abortion, about her own body as much as we do the woman who feels God doesn’t permit her to have an abortion,” Fernández told Pagina/12 last weekend in an interview.
Despite Valdés and Fernández’s alignment on the issue, the FpV lawmaker said firmly that he was not to take a place in the incoming president-elect’s first cabinet.
“I don’t want to, I am not entering Alberto’s cabinet, I have things to do. In this first period, it is my turn to water the plant of unity between Cristina [Fernández de Kirchner], Alberto, and Sergio Massa.”