16 March 2015
ByAppeared in BioNews 794
Poland's government has drafted legislation to regulate IVF in the country. If it becomes law, Poland will become one of the last countries in the European Union to legislate for assisted conception.
IVF has been available in Poland for the past 25 years and, since 2013, can now also be state funded (reported in BioNews 703). However, the field remains largely unregulated and attempts to introduce legislation so far have failed in part because the country's influential Roman Catholic Church is opposed to IVF.
'The current lack of a legal framework for IVF is morally ambiguous and, from a medical standpoint, potentially dangerous,' said Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.
Polish media has reported recently on the case of a woman who conceived using the wrong egg after a mistake was made during IVF. The woman learned about the error when genetic testing revealed that she was not the biological mother of her child born in 2014.
Drafted by ruling centre-right party, Civic Platform, the Bill has been seen by some as a move to attract voters ahead of a general election later in 2015. The majority of Poles are reportedly in favour of IVF for married couples, but Reuters indicates that Ms Kopacz may have to look outside her party for support on passing the new laws as a threat from more conservatives backbenchers could overrule it.
Ms Kopacz told reporters that 'human dramas, such as infertility, have neither a left- nor right-wing character'. She added that she was optimistic the Bill would pass before the parliamentary autumn elections.
If it does, the legislation would allow married and cohabiting couples access to the procedure after 12 months of trying to conceive. The age limit is likely to be capped at 35 for women.
As it stands, spare embryos left unused for 20 years may not be destroyed. Polish Health Minister Bartosz Arlukowicz said this was a 'moral compromise' with opponents of the Bill. After this time, embryos may be offered to other couples.The legislation would also ban the sale of sperm or eggs, and prohibit human embryo cloning.