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Poland’s Parliament Moves to Restore IVF Funding

It’s the first of what it likely to be a deluge of socially liberal bills.

WARSAW — Poland’s newly elected parliament is scrapping a key policy of the outgoing nationalist government by voting Wednesday to restore budget financing of in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures.

The Law and Justice (PiS) party ended the refunds shortly after coming to power in 2015 — a sign of the country’s conservative shift and of the new government’s close ties to the powerful Roman Catholic Church — which denounces the procedure.

But last month’s parliamentary election saw a coalition of opposition parties defeat PiS; they’re expected to take power next month after a final effort by PiS to hang on to power is in all likelihood defeated.

Now the parliament, under the authority of the newly elected opposition speaker, Szymon Hołownia, is starting to act.

An IVF bill backed by a public petition was passed on Wednesday.

“The new rules will be in force in 2024 and the financing that they will secure — no less than 500 million złoty (€115 million) will guarantee a wide access to IVF procedures,” said Agnieszka Pomaska, an MP for Civic Coalition, the largest party of the new three-party opposition coalition.

After PiS ended state financing of IVF procedures, a handful of more liberal local governments introduced their own funding schemes but they were smaller in scale due to a lack of funds.

“Now the financing will level the playing field for couples seeking to have children. It was a thing for the rich otherwise, with costs running into tens of thousands of złoty,” Pomaska said. 

After ending state backing of IVF procedures, PiS preferred supporting less effective methods like so-called naprotechnology, a Catholic Church-approved way of conceiving babies without the allegedly unethical “production” of embryos.

“If we consider that all embryos are human beings, which they are, then please note, ladies and gentlemen, that, on average, the life of one child is paid for by the death of six of his brothers and sisters,” Maria Kurowska, a member of the right-wing Sovereign Poland party, which is a PiS coalition partner, said during last week’s initial parliamentary debate.

Although the bill was approved, it still has to be signed by President Andrzej Duda, a socially conservative PiS ally.

“Knowing President Duda and to the best of my knowledge, the president will not block such a project, but of course he needs to see the final version on his desk,” Marcin Mastalerek, Duda’s chief of staff, told Polish media before the vote.

Source: Politico