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Poland passes IVF law suddenly

Poland’s lower house of parliament has approved a bill that, for the first time, provides statutory regulation of IVF in the country. Although IVF has been available in Poland for 25 years, and has attracted state funding since 2013 (see BioNews 703), it has remained largely unregulated.

Poland’s coalition government, led by the centre-right Civic Platform, has attempted to pass legislation on IVF for several years but had been unsuccessful due to opposition, mainly from the Roman Catholic Church.

However, in last week’s vote, the lower house – the Sejm – voted 261 for the bill, with 176 voting against and six abstentions. The majority of the ruling Civic Platform party voted in favour of the bill, while the conservative, Catholic opposition Law and Justice party voted against the bill.

The bill still needs approval from the Senate and the President, although it is expected that they will back the law since the Government is taking steps to increase the number of births in the ageing nation. However, the opposition has warned it may take the bill to a special court that rules on the constitutionality of new laws.

Under the new bill, both married and unwed couples will be eligible for IVF if other treatments have not given results in 12 months, and they will be permitted to have up to six eggs fertilised.

Unused embryos may be used by other women after 20 years, but cannot be destroyed. Under the bill, trading in or destroying embryos is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The bill also bans the cloning of human embryos, the manipulation of human DNA, and techniques that would influence the embryo’s gender.

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said it was a ‘success of Poland’s freedom’ and a ‘chance for some happiness’ for the couples involved. She added that she was optimistic the bill would be approved before parliamentary elections this autumn.


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