Friday, October 5, 2012
Costa Rican women are appealing to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to overturn a national law banning in-vitro fertilization.
The state’s national ombudsman, Ofelia Taitelbaum, started the process, saying “people will understand that this is about rights” that are appropriate for “our times.”
In the worldwide debate over abortion and women’s rights, this might seem like an unusual law. After all, in-vitro fertilization actually creates life. But Costa Rica is heavily Catholic; more than 76 percent of its people identify themselves as Roman Catholic, and the Vatican openly opposes in-vitro fertilization, widely known as IVF.
When British scientist Robert Edwards won the 2010 Nobel Prize for his development of in-vitro fertilization therapy, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco, the Vatican’s spokesman for bioethics, declared that because of IVF, “a large number of freezers” in the world are “filled with embryos. In the best of cases they are transferred into a uterus, but most probably will end up abandoned or dead.”
The odd thing is that Costa Rica is one of Latin America’s most progressive nations, a true, longtime democracy that has one of the region’s more liberal abortion policies. The state allows abortion in cases that are important to the woman’s physical or mental health.
Last year, the United Nations published a study of abortion and related policies worldwide and found that the most restrictive laws are in Latin America. But in truth, the study’s findings show that the United States would be home to the world’s most restrictive abortion policy – if the Republican Party has its way.