Human Rights Month: The Case of Artavia vs. Costa Rica and its impact for the protection of reproductive rights in the Americas

Thursday, June 13, 2013
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC
Room 603

 

Speakers:

Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, Deputy Executive Secretary, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, OAS

Alejandro Madrazo, Professor, CIDE

Mónica Roa, Programs Director, Women’s Link Worldwide

Moderator: Claudia Martin, Co-Director, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

The Artavia Case involved the prohibition of in vitro fertilization in Costa Rica on the basis of an alleged violation of the right to life of embryos.  Until 2000, domestic legislation had regulated the practice of in vitro fertilization when the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that the decree was unconstitutional. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that the absolute prohibition of in vitro fertilization involved a severe interference with the exercise of the right to private life and family life, as well as the right to personal integrity of those affected by the measure, and that such a measure was disproportionate to the purpose of protecting the right of embryos. To reach this conclusion the Court analyzed, inter alia, the scope of Article 4 under the American Convention on Human Rights and decided that embryos that have not been implanted do not enjoy the full protection of the right to life under that provision.  Moreover, in dicta the Court reasoned that the protection afforded by Article 4 is not absolute and that it must be interpreted in harmony with the fundamental rights of other persons, specially the rights of the mother when the case relates to prenatal life. The panel will analyze the scope of the judgment, the reasoning of the Court and the outcome of this decision. In addition, it will explore the impact that this judgment will have on future debates about reproductive rights in the region.

For years, the protection of economic, social and cultural rights at the international and domestic levels has involved extensive debate regarding the enforceability and implementation. of these rights.  Most recently, however, novel issues regarding the protection of these rights have emerged and enhanced the debate. These include the extraterritorial application of the obligations arising from treaties on economic, social and cultural rights; claims related to the application of these obligations to transnational corporations; and the links between economic, social and cultural rights and development cooperation in the Millennium Development Goals, among others. Moreover, the recent coming into force of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will incorporate an additional challenge to the implementation of these rights through the adjudication of individual cases. The experts in this panel will reflect upon these emerging issues and debate the challenges that lie ahead. 

The Artavia Case involved the prohibition of in vitro fertilization in Costa Rica on the basis of an alleged violation of the right to life of embryos.  Until 2000, domestic legislation had regulated the practice of in vitro fertilization when the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that the decree was unconstitutional. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that the absolute prohibition of in vitro fertilization involved a severe interference with the exercise of the right to private life and family life, as well as the right to personal integrity of those affected by the measure, and that such a measure was disproportionate to the purpose of protecting the right of embryos. To reach this conclusion the Court analyzed, inter alia, the scope of Article 4 under the American Convention on Human Rights and decided that embryos that have not been implanted do not enjoy the full protection of the right to life under that provision.  Moreover, in dicta the Court reasoned that the protection afforded by Article 4 is not absolute and that it must be interpreted in harmony with the fundamental rights of other persons, specially the rights of the mother when the case relates to prenatal life. The panel will analyze the scope of the judgment, the reasoning of the Court and the outcome of this decision. In addition, it will explore the impact that this judgment will have on future debates about reproductive rights in the region.

 

 

Presented by the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

 

PROGRAM AGENDA

HUMAN RIGHTS MONTH - PROGRAM FLYER - ENGLISH

 

HUMAN RIGHTS MONTH - PROGRM FLYER - ESPAÑOL

 

For further information, please contact:
Office of Special Events & Continuing Legal Education
American University Washington College of Law
Phone: 202.274.4075; Fax: 202.274.4079; or secle@wcl.american.edu


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