Ofelia Fernández, the new face of abortion rights in Argentina

Impatience is growing in the ranks of feminist activists. If Alberto Fernández (no family link with Ofelia) is the first Argentine president to declare himself in favor of the legalization of abortion, the pandemic has pushed into the background this subject on which the center-left government was eagerly awaited, having promised to table a bill in Congress in March 2020. It will be done before the end of the year, assured this week the Secretary of State for Legal Affairs of the Peronist President. In recent months, many voices, frustrated by this delay, have been raised to demand “Aborto Legal Ya” (“legal abortion now!”).

Like that of Ofelia Fernández, 20, elected to the local parliament of the city of Buenos Aires in 2019, under the colors of the Peronist coalition in power. “Excuses like ‘don’t saturate the health care system more’ do not make sense, because the system already takes care of women who must be hospitalized following clandestine abortions! “, she is indignant. Asthmatic, the youngest parliamentarian in Latin America does not participate in person in the mobilizations that have timidly resumed in recent weeks, but displays on social networks her unwavering support for the movement. “2020 must be the year of legalization of abortion, she tweeted on November 4th. Rights don’t wait. ”

Back in September 2017. About thirty high schools in Buenos Aires are blocked by their students to oppose a project to reform education. On the private television channel América, a panel of journalists and guests talks remotely with two high school students who occupy their establishment. Very quickly, the men on the set are put in difficulty by a 17-year-old student, with carmine lipstick and strong argument, who does not let herself be taken down when one of the presenters interrupts her by calling her. « chiquita » : “Don’t call me small. “

This is how Argentina discovers Ofelia Fernández. At that time, she was president of the student center – a sort of general delegate for students, at all levels – of the Pellegrini high school, one of the most prestigious in the capital. “I was the youngest student ever elected”, remembers the one who began to campaign in left-wing high school movements at the age of 12, fascinated by the speech of the then Argentine president, Cristina Kirchner.

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