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Costa Rica Court Upholds Access to Emergency Contraceptives

The Constitutional Chamber rejected three actions of unconstitutionality against the decree 41722-S that authorized the sale of the day-after pill without medical prescription. This decree, issued by then-President Carlos and Health Minister Daniel Salas in April 2019, endorsed the dispensation of emergency oral contraceptives without a prescription.

The majority opinion of the court was that there is a legal obligation to respect the rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and recalled that this instance, regarding in vitro fertilization, resolved that the protection of the right to life begins from the moment of conception, equivalent to the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine wall of the woman’s body.

Said pill is a contraceptive method that reduces the risk of pregnancy following sexual intercourse.

Thus, the Constitutional Chamber found that in the terms in which the decree was drafted, it is not regulating a procedure that has abortive purposes, but rather, as its name indicates, it is only authorizing the “dispensation of emergency oral contraceptives.”

At the same time, the majority of that court further concluded that the decree “does not impose the compulsory nature of a medical act or treatment, so that individuals are free to use or not to use the contraceptive.”

In 2021, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) announced that it would provide the emergency contraceptive pill to women who required it.

Psychologist Karen Bonilla Salas, coordinator of the Regulatory Program for Attention to Violence of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), highlighted the importance of the ruling of the Constitutional Court. Bonilla stated that this drug is essential to prevent pregnancy in rape victims.

“The health intervention is given to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, but also unwanted pregnancies. We have documented that the victims, after the abuse, the first thing that interests them is to know if they can become pregnant.

Imagine this double sensation that, in addition to the fact that I was abused, I am going to have consequences for the rest of my life, in addition to the psychological trauma,” the professional explained. The specialist highlighted the use of the pill to protect women’s health and self-determination to decide about their bodies

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