“That is going to be the battle that is coming,” announces the Minister of Health, Ginés González García, in an interview with Page 12, and refers to the implementation of the new law for the Regulation of the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy, sanctioned early Wednesday by the Senate, in a historic vote. Now it is up to the Executive to enact it – with a partial veto in two articles, a commitment made to add support – and then the regulation, in which several ministries will participate, including the one headed by GGG. “The big challenge, in addition to these necessary and bureaucratic steps, will be the application, taking into account the difficulties that we have seen in recent years with the legal interruption of pregnancy, which was partial and now will be more extensive,” he warns. the official and hopes that feminist activism will get involved and be part of that process, in the same way that it was a key piece for the sanction. “The whole movement behind this law will also play a leading role in its implementation,” he said.
“It was a wonderful day for me because the vaccination began and this law was approved: December 29 will remain a very important day in my life,” he says and laughs. The conversation is by telephone, from his office. GGG was the Prime Minister of Health who spoke of abortion as a public health problem already in 2003, who at that time launched the National Program for Sexual Health and Responsible Procreation, which began to buy contraceptives so that they reach the population free of charge. In 2004 it called for sex education to be provided in schools to prevent unwanted pregnancies and thus clandestine abortions. The first protocol of attention of the ILE of the Ministry of Health of the Nation was drawn up towards the end of 2007, in the last stretch of his tenure as minister during the Government of Néstor Kirchner. It sought to give certainty to the medical teams that had to guarantee this practice, in a context in which anti-rights professionals in public hospitals imposed arbitrary obstacles on girls and adolescents who had been raped and wanted to interrupt these forced pregnancies. Many of them had to face back and forth – with demands for judicial permits that did not arrive – and that turned into real torture. These situations still exist, unfortunately. But to a lesser extent. On his second day as Alberto Fernández’s minister, in December 2019, GGG wanted to give a clear message and updated the ILE protocol that former President Mauricio Macri had rejected.
-How do you think about the implementation of the IVE Law?
-I think we have to win it like this law has been won. On the one hand, with awareness of rights, with information, knowledge and activism actions as do all feminist movements so that women are aware of their rights, especially in those places where it is more difficult for them to be exercised. And then, on the other hand, work a lot in the public and private sector, but especially in the public sector and not only in hospitals but a lot, a lot, in the primary care system that is closer to the people, which has more than 6000 centers throughout the country. We are going to quickly provide them with all the supplies and specific drugs to make the law a reality, extending it in a wide radius of application.
-Are you buying misoprostol, the medication to perform abortions?
-Yes, we have a lot and we are buying more doses from the United Nations Population Fund: there will be a very, very important amount.
– Is the authorization of mifepristone going to be processed, a drug that combined with misoprostol is more effective according to the WHO to guarantee IVE with medications?
-We’re on it. And we are encouraging a public or private laboratory to manufacture it in the country.
-Will there be a dissemination campaign and training for health professionals?
-Yes, we will take all these initiatives into account. That is the intention. We are going to try to reach both parties: the health side, so that it has all the knowledge and means, and on the other hand, to raise awareness about the rights so that it is a claim and a demand that cannot stop being heard or attended to. I tell my team every day: keep in mind that now a difficult stage is coming and that we have to do it with all energy. The law alone is not enough.
-How long will it be implemented?
-It is a process that will take several steps and that we will do at maximum speed. This year that begins, it will be applied fulfilling all the previous steps. Remember that through regulation it was possible to build a majority as strong as there was.
-Were you surprised by the difference in votes?
-Even the most optimistic were surprised.
-How do you think conscientious objection can influence access to IVE?
-I think it will not be as much as what could be thought in the past. Maybe it’s my optimism. When decompressing legally, with a law like there is now, many people who used conscientious objection out of fear, because there have been places where very ugly things have been done through the courts about the doctors themselves or the responders (before an ILE), surely not declared herself an objector. Of course this will be a cultural process: it does not change from one day to the next. We are going to give all the guarantees and all the requirements so that the law is complied with and that beyond conscientious objection, it is not used as an alibi and no one is left without access to the practice that they must have.
-Will there be enough health professionals to guarantee IVE throughout the country?
-I do not have any doubt. Sometimes those who say no make more noise than those who say yes. There is a majority that says yes. In many districts abortion has been guaranteed within the legal framework, without fanfare and with great effectiveness.
-Senator Silvia Elías de Pérez, a “celestial” reference in the Senate, has already announced that they will appear in court to claim an alleged unconstitutionality. Will they be able to stop the law in court?
-I don `t believe. It seems to me an absurd thing, so horrible to imagine that a senator goes to court when he loses. The Senate is one of the legislative bodies. So to be offended in that way, invalidating a decision of the majority, is an undemocratic fact, devaluing the institution to which it belongs. It is unusual to me, unless you want to throw a phrase for your clientele: sometimes some senators think of their clientele and not of the common good.
-What impact will the law have?
-First, naturally a health impact: we will have less pain, fewer hospitalizations, fewer preventable maternal deaths. With the Law of 1000 days, protection will be given to women who want to continue with a pregnancy, which will eliminate the use of the interruption of a pregnancy due to a situation of poverty. It is a law of prevention, rights and social justice. They are all earnings.