Termination of Pregnancy and Abortion in Costa Rica

Information about the laws related to abortion and terminating a pregnancy in Costa Rica...

Costa Rica is a Roman Catholic country where abortion is viewed unfavorably.

Abortion is illegal in Costa Rica except in cases where the pregnancy is a health risk or threatens the life of the mother. Elective abortions are against the law, even in cases of rape or incest. Abortions are considered a crime and any doctor who suspects that a woman has had an abortion is required by law to report her to the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ).

Penalties

Illegal abortions are penalized. A woman can be imprisoned for between six months to two years for having an abortion before the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy, and between one to three years if the procedure is carried out after that time. The person performing the procedure can also receive the same punishment if acting with the woman’s consent.

If the woman did not give her permission, or if she is under 15 years of age, the person performing the abortion can be imprisoned for two to eight years, or three to ten years if the procedure is carried out after the second trimester. The punishment is increased if a woman dies as a result of the surgery.

According to Article 120 of the Costa Rican Penal Code of 1970, a reduced penalty of three months to two years of prison applies if the abortion is carried out to “conceal the woman’s dishonor”.

Birth Control and Family Planning

The use of contraception is common in Costa Rica, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and fundamentalist groups. The contraceptive pill can be bought without prescription at pharmacies, and condoms are also available at supermarkets.

Access to reproductive health services, including family planning, pre-natal and post-natal care, and assistance with the birth, is provided as part of the country’s primary health care services at all public hospitals.

The main healthcare provider, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), has rejected the use of emergency contraception on legal grounds.