Loyola Law Students Battle Costa Rican Bishops on In Vitro Fertilization
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is currently deciding whether Costa Rica, which is substantially Catholic and the only country that completely prohibits in vitro fertilization (IVF), is infringing on human rights. Shockingly, a class at a Jesuit law school has sided with plaintiffs – and against the Catholic Church — to oppose laws that protect life from the moment of conception.
The tribunal, which rules on human-rights violations throughout Central and South America, met earlier this month to hear a case brought by a number of couples against the Costa Rican laws. The Costa Rican bishops have steadfastly opposed efforts to legalize IVF, abortion, and gay “marriage,” stating that their legalization would “not address the real needs of our nation and take no account of the dignity of the human person, the nature of the family and the values of Costa Rican society.”
Nevertheless, the International Human Rights Clinic at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, which gives students the opportunity to work on real cases of human rights violations that occur in several countries around the world while receiving credit, announced that they were filing a brief in support of the right to IVF — a practice which the Church has clearly and unequivocally judged to be immoral.
The clinic is headed by law professor Cesare Romano.
So proud of their work, the university posted a video about it on the Catholic university’s website:
In 2000, the Costa Rican Constitutional Court ruled that IVF in the country was unconstitutional because it violated the right to life of the unborn child. But since then, pro-abortion rights forces such as the Center for Reproductive Rights have amassed and petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to accept a case filed by couples alleging that their human rights are being violated by the ban on IVF.
Sadly, those forces seem to have an ally in the Jesuit law school.
The students specifically worked on a case called I/A Court, Gretel Artavia Murillo et al. (“In Vitro Fertilization”) v. Costa Rica.
According to the university’s website, the laws protecting life from the moment of conception are “excessive” and should be nullified by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women:
We are currently preparing an amicus curiae brief in this case pending before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The case arises out of a total ban on In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) by Costa Rica in effect since 2000. Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world to ban IVF and the only one in the Americas. Costa Rica justifies the ban arguing that IVF causes the destruction of human embryos’ which, it claims, are protected life under Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights (Right to Life).
The case has been brought before the Inter-American Court by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arguing that Costa Rica’s ban is an excessive measure that violates articles 11.2 (Prohibition of Arbitrary or Abusive Interference with Privacy) and 17.2 (Right to Marry and to Raise a Family) and 24 (Right to Equal Protection) of the American Convention.
In our brief we urged the Court to avoid entering into the difficult terrain of defining when life begins and rather approach the case through the lens of Article 29 of the Convention (Interpretative Parameters of the Convention), in particular paragraph (a) “”No provision of this Convention shall be interpreted as … permitting any State Party … to suppress the enjoyment or exercise of the rights and freedoms recognized in this Convention or to restrict them to a greater extent than is provided for herein” and (b) “No provision of this Convention shall be interpreted as … permitting any State Party … restrict the enjoyment or exercise of any right or freedom recognized … by virtue of another convention to which one of the said states is a party.”
Thus, we proceeded to show the Court that the total ban is an excessive measure by describing how IVF is regulated in all States of the Americas, pointing out that Costa Rica is alone is banning it. Then we argued that the ban on IVF causes a violation of several rights contained in human rights treaties that have been ratified by Costa Rica including the Protocol of San Salvador to the American convention; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities; the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Inter-American Convention on Violence against Women; and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
The website states that they intended to file the brief in June with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of Costa Rican couples who have had to travel to other countries to access the procedure. The case was actually heard earlier this month.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith, filed a brief in support of Costa Rican laws protecting life from the moment of conception.
Piero Tozzi of the ADF told The Cardinal Newman Society that he felt the brief by a Catholic university “is a betrayal of human dignity.”
“They’re not only advancing an anti-life agenda but they purport to speak in the name of human rights,” he said.
Calls to Loyola and Professor Romano were not returned.