San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
In vitro defiance

Costa Rican legislators face criminal suit for failing to pass IVF law

A lawyer representing 23 couples who successfully sued Costa Rica at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for banning in vitro fertilization on Monday filed a criminal complaint against the country’s 57 lawmakers for failing to implement a court order to legalize the procedure.

In the complaint filed with Costa Rica’s Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala III, attorney Boris Molina accused lawmakers of failing to comply with the court ruling issued Dec. 21, 2012.

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.

In its ruling, the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights set a one-year deadline for Costa Rica to draft and approve legislation to legalize IVF, but lawmakers haven’t even moved forward with a discussion of the bill.

If the complaint is accepted, the Sala III would then send a request to the Legislative Assembly for all lawmakers to waive their immunity and face criminal charges.

If found guilty lawmakers could be blocked from holding public office for at least four years.

On Dec. 21, activist group the Movement in Support of In Vitro Fertilization, along with several other European organizations, will boycott Costa Rican products in Europe to draw attention to the issue.

Some 15,000 Costa Rican couples qualify for fertility treatment or counseling, yet only 250 receive some type of treatment at the Women’s Hospital Fertility Unit. But the hospital is unequipped to offer IVF services or counseling.

Contact L. Arias at

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