Costa Rica rejects in vitro fertilization


The Costa Rican government has shelved a measure that would have legalized in vitro fertilization in the country.

“Lawmakers for and against it criticized the official measure and called it ‘confusing’,” even though the vote was decided by a razor-thin margin, the Costa Rican daily La Nacion pointed out.

By a margin of 26-25, House of Representatives lawmakers decided on June 14 that the bill was too vague to be considered.

According to La Nacion, the decision by the Costa Rican government is a push-back against pressure from the Inter-American Human Rights Court to approve in vitro fertilization. The court had given Costa Rica until July 31 to pass the measure.

While the decision to shelve it is not definitive, any lawmaker who wants to re-open debate would have to present a new bill and begin the process from scratch. The latest effort to pass the measure began last August.

The bishops of Costa Rica expressed their opposition to the bill on numerous occasions. In October of 2010, the president of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena of San Jose, called on the government to reject in vitro fertilization as a technique that involves the destruction of human life.

He said that while parents who cannot have children experience great suffering, “a child must always be seen as a gift.”

Consequently, he continued the child “must not be turned into a means to satisfy a need or a desire, but rather, their dignity as a person demands they be treated as an end.”

Archbishop Barrantes also made an urgent appeal to respect human life from the moment of conception and to safeguard the country’s constitution, which states that “human life is inviolable.”

Catholic teaching opposes in vitro fertilization for two main reasons: First, because it involves a procedure contrary to the natural order of sexuality and that attacks the dignity of spouses and of marriage. Second, the procedure involves the destruction of human embryos both inside and outside the mother’s womb, thus resulting in abortions in each process.

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