San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican woman denied therapeutic abortion petitions Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

A Costa Rican woman who was denied a therapeutic abortion in November filed a petition last Thursday against the Costa Rican government at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The woman, 32, who has been identified only by the pseudonym “Aurora,” requested a therapeutic abortion at a public hospital after she was told that her 12-week-old fetus was severely malformed and would not survive outside the womb.

Costa Rican law allows for therapeutic abortions if a mother’s life is in danger. Doctors at the public Social Security System, or Caja, told Aurora the procedure would not be performed because her life was not at risk, she told the daily La Nación in January.

Reproductive rights advocacy group “Por el derecho a decidir” (Pro Choice) and the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed the petition with the Washington, D.C.-based commission, arguing that several women in Costa Rica are facing similar situations.

Aurora gave birth in December 2012 at the Max Peralta Hospital in the province of Cartago, east of the capital. The child lived less than one hour.

In February, Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, rejected a similar case brought on behalf of Aurora.

The San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights last December ruled against the Costa Rican government’s ban on in vitro fertilization, which was outlawed by the Sala IV in March 2000. The human rights court ordered the country to legalize the procedure and compensate 18 couples who were the victims in the case up to $20,000 each.

Costa Rican lawmakers still have not passed legislation legalizing IVF.

Contact L. Arias at

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