Costa Rica: controversy over the banning of in-vitro fertilization

Publié le : 4 June 2013

 In Costa Rica, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has been banned since a ruling of the Supreme Court on 15 March 2000 which declared that the decree regulating these techniques was unconstitutional. In 2011, following the rejection by Parliament of a bill aimed at reintroducing these IVF techniques, some couples lodged an appeal against this decision. The case was finally brought before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights which issued its ruling on 28 November 2012: Costa Rica was convicted for prohibiting in-vitro procreation.           

This ruling aroused controversy among doctors, philosophers, biologists and jurists, leading to an analysis of this ruling being drawn up in the "Guanajuato Declaration" that was made public on 20 April last. It points out that this ruling contains "both scientific and juridical errors" and "submits them to the attention of the international community." The authors underline in particular that "the argument according to which […] implantation ends the cycle of conception [is not correct]" [because] "in-vitro fertilization is a procedure which shows that the development of the embryo begins with fertilization.
In this country which is firmly in favour of defending the rights of the disabled and where abortion is banned, the Court’s ruling has proved to be controversial. The national daily Diario Extra "condemns the pressure put on the country by the International Court to introduce these techniques."            
The President of the Episcopal Conference and Archbishop of San José, Mons. Hugo Barrantes Urena, has pointed out that in-vitro fertilization "is a technique which, to achieve its ends, eliminates in the process a large number of fertilized embryos, that is to say: human lives that could be born."            
Lastly, the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic, Ana Lorena Brenes, mentioned: "the embryo has the right to live and we are surprised to have been found guilty for protecting its existence.

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