San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Lawyer asks human rights court to sanction Costa Rica over sluggish response to IVF ruling

Fed up with years of delays, a lawyer representing several people who won their challenge against a decade-old ban on in vitro fertilization is asking the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights to sanction the Costa Rican government for not complying with the international court’s order.

Boris Molina, lawyer for 12 of the 18 people who sued the Costa Rican government for denying them access to in vitro fertilization, sent a letter to the court today asking for sanctions. The lawyer argued that the payment of damages by the government was not sufficient recompense, and that the assembly must pass a law that legalizes and regulates IVF in Costa Rica, reported

According to the lawyer, the court can issue a verbal sanction or file a formal petition with the Costa Rican government. He added that stronger measures could be taken if the legislature misses the latest deadline, Dec. 21, reported

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights determined that the ban on in vitro fertilization, a process where a human egg is fertilized outside the women’s body, constituted an arbitrary interference to the right to private and family life, the right to found a family, and the victims’ right to equal protection, according to a press release from the IACHR.

The IACHR issued a merit report in August 2010 and gave the Costa Rican government two months to report on its actions. The IACHR granted the government three extensions to respond before filing a complaint with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, according to court documents.

The IACHR ruled that Costa Rica should implement the technique, make it available through the public health care system, and have lawmakers draft a law regulating its practice. When Costa Rica failed to act on the commission’s recommendations, the IACHR sent the case to the court in July 2011.  

Since 2010, Costa Rica has missed every deadline to address the recommendations, including one last month.

Costa Rica is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the fertility treatment. The country passed the ban in 2000 under pressure from the Catholic Church and conservative lawmakers. 

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