San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Human rights court to hear Costa Rica in vitro case

After years of waiting, plaintiffs against Costa Rica’s ban on in vitro fertilization will have their case heard in international court. On Friday, the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed case number 12.361, Grettel Artavia Marillo against the State of Costa Rica before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, Costa Rica.

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

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 partially legalize IVF. The bill established a limit to the number of embryos that can be created and requires all embryos to be implanted. But lawmakers failed to approve the bill, despite several deadline extensions issued by the commission.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States and the hemisphere’s top court, is responsible for placing sanctions against member countries that do not comply with international rights law.

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