President Solis promises to sign draft decree issued last Thursday, authorizing IVF in both public and private medical facilities.
In November of 2012, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called out Costa Rica as the only country in the world to completely prohibit IVF. Not only did they determine that Costa Rica must lift the ban, the IACHR also ordered the country to pay compensation to the people affected by the band since 2000 when IVF was outlawed due to pressure from the Catholic Church.
According to the ruling, Costa Rica had:
[quote_center]“violated the rights to private and family life, to personal integrity … to sexual health, to enjoy the benefits of scientific and technological progress, and the principle of non-discrimination”[/quote_center]
The draft decree finally authorizing IVF in Costa Rica came this past Thursday, just six hours before the IACHR-mandated deadline.
Understanding IVF and the Ban
Developed by British doctors in 1978, IVF has provided countless women all over the world the opportunity of motherhood. In fact, The Guardian attributes over 5 million births to IVF.
In vitro literally means “outside the body.” Therefore IVF is a procedure that involves fertilizing a woman’s egg with sperm in a laboratory and then placing the newly-formed embryo back into the woman’s womb.
Nevertheless, the controversy around IVF has long been debated by pro-life activists in and outside of the Catholic Church. The principal complaint? That life begins at the moment of conception — or the union of sperm and egg — rather than implantation or birth. Therefore, any embryos lost between fertilization and childbirth are considered losses of life, and while IVF has been tremendously successful for some, the fact remains that much less than half of the women who have received IVF give birth to a live baby. Even reproductive endocrinologist Anthony Caruso argues:
[quote_center]“Life and personhood start at the moment of fertilization… There is no way to do IVF without losing embryos.”[/quote_center]
Even so, the benefits of IVF eventually won. As Director Gerardo Escalante of the Costa Rican Institute of Fertility in San José (the only clinic that provided IVF in Costa Rica before the ban) explained back in 2012:
[quote_center]“The state [made] a mistaken interpretation of the right to life, treating a fertilized egg as a person: in fact, not all embryos result in a newborn. The current situation is discriminating against people with reproductive disability, especially those without enough money to go abroad for treatment”[/quote_center]
Changes in Costa Rica
President Solis promised to sign the decree into effect by Tuesday, September 8th.
It’s unclear whether or not IVF will be permitted for LGBT couples. After all the first common law marriage between two men was only just recognized a few months ago, two years after a 2013 ruling mandated common-law marriages should exist regardless of gender and “without discrimination against their human dignity.”
At the very least, the Costa Rican government promises IVF will be available to both couples and single women struggling with infertility.