Poland drafts bill to ban in-vitro fertilization | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.06.2009
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Poland drafts bill to ban in-vitro fertilization

A group of Polish parliamentarians wants to make in vitro fertilization illegal, but their motion is causing a wide divide in public opinion.

Parents with a newborn baby

The party's bill would make it even harder for infertile couples to become parents

The campaign is being waged by the country's conservative opposition, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), which claims that excess human embryos produced during the IVF procedure are destroyed, thus violating their right to life.

Reagenzglasbefruchtung

Pro-life campaigners describe the IVF procedure as unethical

MP Boleslaw Piecha of the Law and Justice Party, who came up with the proposed ban, is convinced that Poland should lead the way in Europe by fighting for the rights of the unborn.

"What we need is to stop human embryos being artificially created outside the woman's body and then being treated inhumanely," said Piecha. "So far, Poland hasn't had any legislation on the issue, and it's high time this was brought to an end."

Mixed reaction

The proposal has been endorsed by the Polish Roman Catholic Church, which back in the early 1990s used its influence to have a repressive abortion ban imposed. However, it has been criticized by women's groups, who argue that the ban would deprive childless couples of the chance to have a baby.

The campaign scares women like 37-year-old academic lecturer Monika, who sees IVF as her last resort. She and her husband have been trying to conceive a baby for 12 years now.

Monika believes that those behind the bill should consult women like her and doctors, instead of getting on a moral high horse.

"Conservative politicians are divorced from modern-day reality," she said.

The Church's influence

Critics say that the present liberal Polish government is not doing enough to control the church's grasp on public life. According to Zbigniew Nosowski, editor of the liberal Catholic magazine Wiez, some Poles still cling to the old concept of the Church's involvement in social life – "a kind of Catholic society, even a Catholic state."

Gedenken am ersten Jahrestag des Todes von Papst Johannes Paul II in Polen

The Catholic Church is a powerful force in Polish society

But there are those who say that Polish politicians' reluctance to face up to the church could cost them dearly.

According to public opinion surveys, the nation is split right down the middle on controversial issues such as IVF treatment and abortion. However, more and more younger-generation Poles appear to have doubts about how far the Church should be allowed to push its conservative line.

ew/Rafal Kiepuszewski

Editor: Deanne Corbett

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