San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
In vitro defiance

Human rights court orders Costa Rica to legalize in vitro fertilization

The San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling Thursday night against the government of Costa Rica condemning its ban on in vitro fertilization. The court ordered the country to legalize the practice, which was outlawed in March 2000 by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV.

The ruling is obligatory for the country, Communications Minister Francisco Chacón said.

In 2001, a group of 18 affected families filed an appeal before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and in September 2010, the commission recommended Costa Rica reverse the Sala IV’s ruling.

Costa Rica failed to implement the recommendation, and in October 2011, victims’ families filed a suit in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The ruling also demands the state indemnify, within one year, all of the18 couples who filed the lawsuit with amounts ranging from $5,000-$20,000.

The court found that there was a violation of victims’ rights, as well as psychological damage. The court ordered the state to provide up to four years of free and immediate psychological treatment for victims.

“The ruling will be complied with in its entirety, as our country is respectful of international law. … In the coming weeks, we will report on the government’s actions,” Chacón said.

Ileana Balmaceda, executive president of Costa Rica’s Social Security System, said in a press release that “the agency is not prepared at this time to assume a situation like this, and therefore, we need time to acquire the appropriate equipment and to train our staff.”

Contact L. Arias at

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