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Profiles of Persistence: Debora Diniz
the harsh reality of daily life.
When I became a feminist in the world, I saw firsthand the challenges
that women face, what they live through, and began to understand what
needed to change to foster a more just, equal, and democratic society.
Determined, I co-founded Anis, an institute dedicated to bioethics and women’s rights
in 1999. In 2004, we petitioned Brazil’s Supreme Court to allow abortion in cases of
fetal anencephaly—the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp.
I remember the anguish of pregnant women with unviable fetuses during the long
wait for justice, and the agitation and frustration I felt towards a policy that I knew is
right. The political struggle can be slow, tedious, and frustrating—but eight
years later, we won the court case.
Today, the fight for abortion rights continues in Brazil, where Anis has petitioned the
Supreme Court to allow for abortion access in cases of Zika and during the first 12
weeks of pregnancy. Since the virus hit my country, I have met countless women who
gave up their lives to care for Zika-affected children, women who still can’t access
contraception, women who do not know that Zika can be transmitted sexually. It’s an
uphill battle, but working in partnership with IPPF/WHR staff reminds me
that we are on the right path, the just path, and that we are not in it alone.