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Costa Rica granted yet another extension on in vitro fertilization

May 31, 2011

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has granted Costa Rican officials another extension on a decision of whether or not to lift the country’s ban against in vitro fertilization, according to a press release from the foreign ministry Tuesday afternoon.

Foreign Minister René Castro announced the newest extension will give Costa Rican lawmakers two additional months to pass a law legalizing the controversial procedure. This is the fourth time the IACHR has agreed to extend the deadline.

Costa Rica is the only country in the Americas that outlaws IVF, a medical procedure where a woman’s egg cells are artificially fertilized outside of her body. In April, the commission ruled that Costa Rica must either legalize the procedure by Tuesday or face legal ramifications for alleged violations of human rights (TT, May 20).

In 2000, the Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court ruled IVF violated an unborn human’s right to life, starting a controversy between conservative Christians and couples who found themselves unable to conceive a child.

Officials from the Vatican as well as Costa Rica’s own Bishop Conference have put pressure on the government to maintain the ban, despite warnings of sanctions from international bodies.

Four years after the ban was initially passed, the U.S.-based Center for Reproductive Rights petitioned the IACHR to accept a case on behalf of two Tico couples unable to conceive a child. The commission ruled in favor of the couples and wrote a report in August 2010 asking the Costa Rican government to legalize the procedure.

In response, Costa Rican lawmakers eventually put forward a bill that would legalize IVF with severe restrictions. The bill establishes a limit to the number of embryos that can be created and requires all embryos to be implanted. However, the bill was never passed.

If Costa Rica does not eventually comply with the report, the commission is mandated to refer the matter to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where it will review further action.

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