San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Human rights body hears Costa Rica in vitro case

An international commission based in Washington, D.C. held a public hearing yesterday on whether Costa Rica´s restrictions on in vitro fertilization violate human rights.

Andrea Bianchi, who is infertile, testified tearfully before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights that the restrictions violated her right to privacy and to have a family. Vanessa Videche, the legal director at the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry, argued that the restrictions are justified because they protect the embryo´s right to life.

Bianchi is among 10 couples suing Costa Rica before the commission, which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS). The commission must now decide whether to bring the case before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, based in San José.

In 2000, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) appeared to ban in vitro fertilization, and the country´s only in vitro clinic shut down its lab. But earlier this month, a lower court reinterpreted the ruling to allow in vitro fertilization with just one egg, which yields a 10 percent success rate. The ruling is under appeal.

The state´s lawyers argued that the commission should not hear a case still being discussed in Costa Rican courts.

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