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Evangelical lawmaker Justo Orozco to preside over commission studying IVF bill

June 30, 2015

Justo Orozco, from the Costa Rican Renovation Party, was elected Tuesday as president of the Legislative Assembly Commission on Science and Technology, which must study and vote on a bill to regulate in vitro fertilization and regulate stem-cell research.

Two members of the commission, Rodolfo Sotomayor from the Social Christian Unity Party and María Eugenia Venegas from Citizen Action Party, resigned from the commission in protest over Orozco’s appointment.

Lawmakers from the ruling National Liberation Party proposed the evangelical lawmaker, in a move that angered members of the opposition, as Orozco has openly opposed IVF bills and same-sex civil union bills. Last week, Orozco set off a firestorm of public outrage after saying a fellow lawmaker should be removed from a commission studying a same-sex marriage bill “because she is a lesbian,” and therefore, in Orozco’s mind, biased.

Following the outrageous comments, the Attorneys Association moved to study whether Orozco should be disbarred for discrimination.

“I have a personal appreciation for Mr. Orozco, but I don’t think he is eligible for the Science and Technology Commision, where open-mindness and investigation must prevail,” Sotomayor said.

Venegas called Orozco’s appointment “abominable,” adding that he is “the least prepared person to chair a committee discussing issues on science and technology.”

Orozco, a math teacher and lawyer, told reporters he respects Venegas’ and Sotomayor’s positions, and he acknowledged that he plans to oppose the bills in question, adding that he “represents only one vote in the commision.”

A ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012 forced Costa Rica to legalize IVF, which was outlawed in March 2000 by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV. The San José-based human rights court also ordered payment of $420,000 in damages to 18 couples who where affected by the country’s ban.

Last year, Orozco chaired the Assembly’s Human Rights Commission and activly opposed the approval of bills that would allow same-sex marriages in Costa Rica and grant benefits to same-sex couples.

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