Professor examines IVF policy in Costa Rica.

Lynn Morgan

By Keely Savoie

Lynn Morgan, Mary E. Woolley Professor of Anthropology, examines Costa Rica’s reproductive rights policies in a blog for PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal. In the piece, Morgan suggests that the laws intended to protect infants can have the opposite effect.

A case in point: in 2015, a woman gave birth to sextuplets for the first time in Costa Rican history. Five of the six babies died within five months.

Morgan traces the origin of high-order multiple births to a 2000 constitutional ban on in vitro fertilization that was designed to protect embryos.

She explains that while IVF often is associated with multiple births, the number of embryos transferred is rarely more than two. When IVF is not an option, women may choose to use drugs to stimulate ovulation. But in ovarian stimulation, it is impossible to control the number of embryos. Because fetal reduction procedures are not available in Costa Rica, women are forced to carry the embryos to term.

On February 26, 2016, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that IVF must be legalized in Costa Rica. Hailing the court’s decision as the correct one, Morgan wrote, “Ideally, this decision will also halt the dramatic rise in multiple births.”

Read the full article in PLOS ONE.