Young Scholars Series:

A Right to Create a Child? How the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is Wrong on In Vitro Fertilization

March 25, 2015

Young Scholar: Sarah Schaefer, J.D.

Sarah Schaefer is a law student at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she is a Murphy Scholar with the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, and also currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Catholic Studies. She has experience in public interest litigation and working with domestic public policy matters. She holds a B.A. in Theology from Benedictine College.


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights decided that Costa Rica’s refusal to allow in vitro fertilization was a violation of couples’ right to found a family.  This ruling raises the question of whether human rights treaties can rightly be interpreted as including the right to have a child – by any means necessary.  Edmund Burke Fellow Sarah Schaefer examines the treaties themselves and discusses how the Court’s decision violates the rights of the children created through in vitro fertilization and interprets the right to found a family in a way that was never envisioned nor intended by those who negotiated the treaties.