Legalization of Abortion in Costa Rica: Pro-Choice Or Pro-Life? Lil Marie Apéstegui F
Universidad de Costa Rica
In Costa Rica women are not able to choose whether to have an abortion or not, since this procedure is allowed only in order to preserve the life or physical health of the woman and it has to be ordered by a court. Abortions are illegal in almost all cases, including when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and when the fetus suffers from medical problems or birth defects. (Abortion in Costa Rica) and people can go to jail because of having an abortion or assisting someone if the procedure has not been approved under the above mentioned circumstances. Even though there are pro-life and pro-choice groups in Costa Rica, the discussion is not focused on the base of Human Rights. In this paper I want to state that abortion must be legalized in Costa Rica because by opposing to it, the government is violating the human right to equal medical treatment for all women and these women have to turn to illegal practices that put their health at risk.
Key words: human rights, abortion laws in Costa Rica, pro-choice, pro-life. Legalization of Abortion in Costa Rica: Pro-Choice Or Pro-Life?
In a religious country like Costa Rica, abortion rights are restricted to cases where the mother´s life is in danger (Abortion Laws, Women on Waves), but rape victims are not considered to have this right, even if that mother is almost a baby herself and her life may be in danger due to this pregnancy. Under Costa Rican laws induced abortion has been included in the crimes against life since 1970, and if a doctor suspects that a woman has had an abortion he or she is required to report it to the authorities, otherwise they can also face criminal charges. Punishment varies depending on whether the woman consented or not to the procedure or if the fetus is six months' gestation at the time. This is a very emotional subject that leads to passionate and controversial arguments amongst the Costa Rican society and people´s opinion on the matter is divided into two groups: pro-choice or pro-life. Proponents of legalizing abortion, or Pro-Choice, claim that women have the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not and that this decision cannot be limited by governmental or religious authorities; that their right prevails over any right claimed for the fetus; and that if this option is denied through legal channels, they will find someone to help them with the procedure even if it is not always safe. Some Pro-choice groups promote unrestricted access to abortion services under any circumstance and paid by the government, while others propose that abortion should only be used as a last resort but nevertheless, not criminalized. On the other hand, those who oppose legalization of abortion and identify themselves as Pro-life, argue that life begins at conception, that the fetus suffers during the abortion and therefore it should be considered as a crime because it is the same as murdering an innocent human being.
Pro-Life supporters sustain that woman do not have the right to terminate a potential life because it places the life of the mother over that of the fetus who cannot defended his or herself. The main argument for Pro-life supporters concerns the question: when does life begin? Science has been struggling with this notion and consider that the fertile egg has the potential for life but it is not yet a human being, nevertheless Pro-life supporters consider that life begins at conception, before implantation of the fertile egg in the uterus. This is an argument of moral or religious belief which cannot be rebutted with scientific facts since their position is based on the Bible or on any other religious book. There are also those who consider abortion a crime because it is killing a human being, which is against the law regardless of any religious belief, and they argue that it is unfair to allow...
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Costa Rica Country Program. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/planned-parenthood-global/costa-rica-country-program
Human Rights Watch | Q&A: Human Rights Law and Access to Abortion. (2005, June 30). Retrieved November 22, 2014, from http://www.hrw.org/
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