A pro-life protester holding a placard saying 'Stop abortion' demonstrates in front of Poland's constitutional court, which is expected to issue a ruling that could lead to an almost total ban on abortion. (Photo: AFP)
A judge in São Paulo has ordered Catholics for the Right to Decide, a non-governmental entity linked to the US-based Catholics For Choice, to remove the word "Catholic" from its name.
The judge said there is an incompatibility between the NGO and the values adopted by the Catholic Church.
"In defending the right to decide on abortion, which the church clearly and severely condemns, there is a clear distortion and incompatibility of the name used in relation to the purposes and concrete action of the association, which directly violates morals and good customs," said the decision issued by Judge Jose Carlos Ferreira Alves.
The judge also said the association "does not have authorization to use the Catholic expression, which is required by the code of canon law." The judge stipulated a daily fine of approximately $175 if the group continues to use the expression.
The decision is the result of a suit filed by Don Bosco Center, which celebrated the decision on social media.
"The church has always clearly condemned abortion as a serious sin to the fifth commandment of the law of God 'you shall not kill'," said Pedro Affonseca, president of the association.
"This organization, since its creation, bears the name 'Catholic' next to the words 'the right to decide,' which means precisely its abortionist, murderous nature, promoter of the culture of death and abortion, that is unacceptable. It offends the Catholic faith, it offends God," added Affonseca.
"The well-reasoned decision puts an end to decades of the abusive use of the name," said Rep. Chris Tonietto, one of Brazil's most vocal anti-abortion lawmakers.
A spokesman for the Brazilian bishops' conference told Catholic News Service it had not yet taken a position on the issue.
Catholics for the Right to Decide was founded in Brazil in 1993 and is part of an international network of women's organizations that defend the right to abortion in Latin America, the U.S. and Europe.
It said it had not been notified officially of the decision.
"Catholics for the Right to Decide-Brazil reiterates its commitment to democracy and human rights, especially with the sexual and reproductive rights of girls and women, so threatened in the current Brazilian political situation," said a statement issued by the group.
In Brazil, legal abortions are only allowed under three circumstances: pregnancy resulting from rape, risk to the life of the pregnant woman and anencephaly of the fetus.