On some buses that cover the routes in San José, a beautiful image of a young black woman, pleasantly dressed in attractive colors, is posted, warning: “If you are pregnant and your health or life is at risk, you may need a therapeutic abortion”. The advertisement is sponsored by the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IACHR) and the Government of Sweden.
Leaving aside the drafting error of the text (which incorrectly uses verb conjugations), foreign interference in matters that are so sensitive to our country and that contradict our legislation and our most important values in my personal opinion are unacceptable, here I explain why.
In Costa Rica there is no right to abortion. Nor is such a right recognized in any of the human rights instruments that have been issued. This data, which I have personally investigated, was recently and officially confirmed by the Supreme Court of Justice of the United States that in the sentence “Dobbs vs. Jackson” established it categorically and therefore repealed the “Roe vs. Wade” (1973) and “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey” (1992) that recognized free abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy.
A little history
In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States issued the ruling “Roe v. Wade” that established the unrestricted right to free abortion up to the 24th week of gestation (6 months). According to the ruling, this right is derived from the 14th amendment of the American Constitution which says, in what matters, the following: “…nor can any state deprive a person of his life, liberty or property, without due process of law …”.
Not until 2022
Despite the forced interpretation, it was not until 2022 that the same Supreme Court issued the ruling “Dobbs vs. Jackson”, in which it defined that, contrary to what is erroneously indicated in Roe v. Wade, the 14th amendment does not recognize the right to abortion. In addition, the ruling makes a legal and historical analysis with which it shows that the laws of the United States have never recognized abortion as a right and, on the contrary, have always established the protection of life. Nor do human rights instruments recognize abortion as a right, but rather protect life from conception.
The Court did not make a moral analysis of abortion, it only defined that, since it is not recognized as a constitutional right, the federated states can freely regulate it. With this latest ruling, the Court returned to the state congresses the power to regulate abortion, so that they can restrict, allow or regulate it, without the Constitution imposing any obligation on them to accept it. With this declaration, the laws that allow abortion in the United States are not repealed; the power to legislate on this issue is simply returned to each state. Many states have already issued regulations that regulate or restrict it.
In Costa Rica until now, there is no right to abortion
The so-called “therapeutic abortion” is not a right, because in our country the life of the human being is protected from 300 days before birth. Our Political Constitution establishes that “human life is inviolable”. Therefore, causing an abortion will always be a crime.
Now, there is a case in which abortion, although it is still a crime, “is not guilty” and that is when it is performed “with the mother’s consent”, “with the doctor’s recommendation” and “when it is the only means to preserve the health or life of the mother”. All three conditions must occur simultaneously and exculpation will only be admissible if there is no other alternative that allows saving the lives of both. It cannot be applied by the doctor without the consent of the mother (she could request that the baby be saved); Neither can the mother request it against medical advice, nor can it be performed if there are options to save the lives of both.
The current progress of medicine has allowed the possibility of being faced with this extreme crossroads to be very remote. In addition, it is less frequent every day due to prenatal treatment and surgical advances. There is no doubt that the doctor, in the exercise of his responsibility, will indicate to the mother the existence of the risk and the possibility of making the difficult decision, but currently, the possibilities for such a thing to happen are truly extraordinary.
According to a study by the University of Costa Rica, between 2000 and 2017 there were 386 deaths of pregnant women in Costa Rica, which is equivalent to 22 women per year. However, deaths due to child birth are numbered at 29 in the same period, which is equivalent to less than 2 women per year. In addition, thanks to scientific advances and prenatal care, the number of deaths has been falling markedly every year.
For this reason, the advertising that is being done on the buses is tendentious and misleading, because it promotes a falsehood and an act seriously contrary to our values and laws, by affirming that in Costa Rica the right to abortion exists. But it is even more serious that this promotion is being sponsored by foreign governments and international entities that should respect the sovereignty and self-determination of nations. Impositions by international organizations or foreign nations violate our sovereignty and our freedom.
Pregnant mothers need support, attention and care. Mothers in a state of poverty require accompaniment and children must be supported by their family (mother and father) to grow and function better. Support in this sense would be reasonable and welcome. International organizations and foreign nations must respect the vocation for respect for life in Costa Rica and collaborations should be oriented in that direction.