Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (CDD, or “Catholics for the Right to Decide”) is a network of 12 Catholic social justice groups throughout Latin America committed to the defense of women’s rights, with a focus on sexual and reproductive rights, gender equality, and combating violence against women and discrimination.
The Brazil chapter was founded in 1994 as a non-governmental feminist organization and has become a respected and visible counterpoint to the Roman Catholic Church on matters related to sexual and reproductive rights and health. CDD-Brazil produces and disseminates ethical and religious arguments that arm social movements in their fight to change society’s mentality towards women’s rights. It is the only organization in the country that works at the intersection of sexual and reproductive rights and religion.
Catholics for the Right to Decide-Brazil works for equality in gender relations, full citizenship, and human rights for women. It seeks social justice, dialogue between different religions, and changes in cultural and religious patterns that restrict women’s autonomy, particularly with respect to sexuality and reproduction.
As the world’s largest Catholic country, Brazil is highly influenced by the Vatican’s stands against sexual and reproductive rights. CDD-Brazil has proven over the years that it is the best-placed organization to serve as a counterpoint to the church. In addition, CDD-Brazil collaborates with other feminist organizations to advocate for laws and policies that protect and advance sexual and reproductive rights.
CDD-Brazil has produced television programs on sexual and reproductive rights in partnership with the Ministry of Health, created education materials on reproductive rights and religion, and completed a nationwide survey of medical students in universities on their perception of reproductive rights. During the Pope’s visit to Brazil in July 2013, CDD representatives were interviewed 40 times, including by the country’s most influential papers. At the same time, they released the results of a poll that they had commissioned, showing that Catholics, especially the young, disagree with the Church’s positions on emergency contraception, criminal punishment for a woman who has had an abortion, and same-sex marriage.
With support from IWHC, the organization has been working to secure access to legal abortion in public hospitals by producing public education and advocacy materials, engaging national and regional media, and participating in public forums, expert seminars, and workshops to discuss the topic.