Your voice counts – sign the petition now to urge the Costa Rican government to permit women to receive the medical care they need.
10.12.17 - When Aurora, a Costa Rican woman, and her husband found out she was pregnant they were thrilled to finally be starting the family they had always dreamed of having.
On the way to a friend’s house to announce the big news, however, Aurora became ill and started bleeding. She never made it to her friend’s house. Instead, she was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent a slew of tests over a period of a week. The diagnosis was grim: the fetus had Prune Belly syndrome and would never survive a pregnancy.
Aurora and her husband were devastated.
With her physical and mental health in steep decline, Aurora asked for a therapeutic abortion, but her doctors refused. Not once, but again and again for months, despite the fact that she had every right to a legal abortion.
As a result, Aurora was forced to carry on as if everything was normal with her pregnancy, which only magnified her pain and suffering. Finally, she asked the Costa Rica Supreme Court to intervene, but was forced to wait over a month for them to address her request. During this time she went into early labor and had to undergo an emergency cesarean section. She delivered a stillborn.
Of the experience, Aurora said: “A piece of my soul died when I found out that my pregnancy was unviable. I hope no one suffers like I did.”
Yet Aurora’s story is not unique.
Ana, a 26-year-old Costa Rican woman, endured a similarly devastating experience. At 6 weeks, doctors informed her that she was carrying a fetus with anencephaly, a fatal diagnosis that means the fetus has no brain. Like Aurora, Ana was denied a legal abortion and forced to continue with the pregnancy, causing her to spiral into a deep depression that left her suicidal.
Ultimately, she labored for more than seven hours and gave birth to a stillborn. To this day, she continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic gastrointestinal issues from being forced to continue with a nonviable pregnancy.
While Costa Rican law allows a woman to voluntarily end a pregnancy in cases where her health or life is at risk, no administrative procedure or clinical protocol exists on how to interpret this provision of the law. With access to care poorly defined, the majority of doctors refuse to perform therapeutic abortion in most cases. Indeed, doctors can be sentenced up to 10 years if found guilty of providing an abortion deemed illegal under Costa Rica’s penal code.
Without regulations around abortion care, women like Aurora and Ana—along with thousands of other Costa Rican women—are denied their fundamental human right.
That’s why we’re pressuring the Costa Rican government to approve technical regulations and protocols to prevent these injustices from happening. We’re also demanding that the government provide individual reparations to both Ana and Aurora, who suffered irrevocably.
Join us in this fight and sign our petition to call on the Costa Rican government to implement clear regulations and guidelines for health care professionals to ensure women’s access to therapeutic abortion. Women’s health and lives are at stake.