- Title: POLAND: IVF laws spark debate
- Date: 28th October 2010
- Summary: WARSAW, POLAND (OCTOBER 26, 2010) (REUTERS) DOCTOR AT MICROSCOPE AND COMPUTER SCREEN INSEMINATING EGG COMPUTER SCREEN SHOWING DOCTOR CATCHING SPERM IN PIPETTE NEEDLE PIPETTE NEEDLES IN PETRI DISH WHICH CONTAINS HUMAN EGGS AND SPERM COMPUTER SCREEN SHOWING THE MOMENT OF INSEMINATION AND CONCEPTION CLOSE UP WITH MOUSE ARROW POINTING TO SPERM WITHIN THE EGG WARSAW, POLAND (OCTOBER 25, 2010) (REUTERS) WOMAN WALKING INTO DOWN THE AISLE OF A CHURCH WOMAN BOWING PEOPLE PRAYING (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) FATHER STANISLAW TASIEMSKI, JOURNALIST AT THE CATHOLIC INFORMATION AGENCY SAYING: "First of all it has to be said that there is not much difference between the stance of the Polish Church and the Church's common stance. By sending the letter to the President prior to the parliamentary debate, the Bishops have repeated almost the same thing that was stated in the 'Dignitas Personae' (Vatican document dealing with Bioethical issues). They restated that a human life begins from the moment of conception. The moment an embryo is conceived is when we start to deal with a human being. They restated all the consequences which come from In Vitro Fertilization including the extinguishing of many embryos, therefore many human beings." FATHER TASIEMSKI TALKING PHOTO OF POPE JOHN PAUL II WARSAW, POLAND (OCTOBER 27, 2010) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING DOWN CORRIDOR IN POLISH PARLIAMENT PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER MP SPEAKING DURING HEALTH CARE REFORM DEBATE MPs, INCLUDING LAW AND JUSTICE PARTY'S JUNIOR, SHADOW HEALTH MINISTER, TOMASZ LATOS ON PHONE (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) LAW AND JUSTICE PARTY'S JUNIOR, SHADOW HEALTH MINISTER, TOMASZ LATOS SAYING: "In a Law and Justice proposal in vitro is totally banned. But there are two proposals. The other allows for the possibility to adopt frozen embryos by couples who would be interested in doing so, but there would also be legal sanctions for breaking the law, sanctions relating to criminal law in the form of a jail term." WARSAW, POLAND (OCTOBER 26, 2010) (REUTERS) RECEPTION OF NOVUM FERTILITY CLINIC BOARD SHOWING THE AMOUNT OF SUCCESSFUL BIRTHS FROM FERTILITY TREATMENT IN CLINIC (10487 TOTAL, 7831 FROM IVF TREATMENT AND 2656 FROM OTHER METHODS) (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) FOUNDER AND HEAD DOCTOR OF NOVUM, FERTILIITY CLINIC, PIOTR LEWANDOWSKI SAYING: "In Poland there are already more than 50 centres doing the extracorporeal fertilization. I am not surprised that some of the MPs are angered by the idea of a lack of control around what concerns those centres. Definitely, the arguments that there are experiments being made on the embryos or that they are cloned are exaggerated, because there is no basis for it. The regulations are necessary, but they should not do any harm to the patients or the doctors, or threaten them with prison. In many states in the world, regulations been put in place and somehow the extracorporeal fertilizations can still be done, together with embryo freezing."
- Embargoed: 12th November 2010 12:00
- Location: Poland
- Country: Poland
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Religion
- Reuters ID: LVABJJ9UX5BJQDQCWYKX52O8XTKJ
- Story Text: A fierce debate over the ethics of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is taking place in Poland, where the parliament is due to vote on a series of bills.
Poland lacks laws precisely regulating IVF and parliament will debate several bills ranging from a complete ban to ensuring full state co-financing of the procedure.
At present, some 50 clinics perform IVF in Poland and the treatment costs 6,500-15,000 zlotys ($2,300-$5,300), according to statistics compiled by the www.Money.pl website.
The E.U. has been pushing member states that do not already have laws in place to govern and protect the lucrative and controversial use of artificial human insemination for conception.
Bishops of Poland's influential Roman Catholic Church recently branded IVF "the younger sister of eugenics" in a letter aimed at swaying lawmakers ahead of the parliamentary debate.
But their intervention, two weeks after the church condemned the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Prize for medicine to IVF pioneer Robert Edwards, triggered an unusually sharp response from lawmakers who say the clergy should not meddle in politics.
Father Stanislaw Tasiemski from the Polish Catholic Information Agency (KAI) said in the letter the bishops had restated the position of the church, that "a human life begins from the moment of conception."
He added: "The moment an embryo is conceived is when we start to deal with a human being. They restated all the consequences which come from in vitro fertilization, including the extinguishing of many embryos, therefore many human beings."
In a country where the main opposition Conservative party, Law and Justice, consists of many staunchly Catholic ministers these strong views can be seen reflected in the nation's Parliamentary chamber.
One of the six legislative measures under consideration would totally ban IVF and Law and Justice's deputy health minister, Tomasz Latos said: "There are two proposals. The other allows for the possibility to adopt frozen embryos by couples who would be interested in doing so, but there would also be legal sanctions for breaking the law."
The threat of jail sentences for exercising the right to have children has been met with fierce resistance from the medical industry.
One of Poland's leading IVF specialists, Dr Piotr Lewandowski, would be considered in breach of Polish law and could face a jail sentence if he continued his practice under such laws.
Lewandowski, whose clinic is responsible for producing more than 10,000 successful pregnancies, agreed that regulation was necessary but explained that other nations have introduced monitoring of the treatment without such strict measures.
He said there were already more than 50 centres in Poland performing IVF and added: "I am not surprised that some of the MPs are angered by the idea of a lack of control around what concerns those centres.
"The arguments that there are experiments being made on the embryos or that they are cloned are exaggerated, because there is no basis for it.
"The regulations are necessary, but they should not do any harm to the patients or the doctors, or threaten them with prison. In many states in the world, regulations have been put in place and somehow the extracorporeal fertilizations can still be done, together with embryo freezing."
His clinic is already dealing with couples hoping to have IVF before any restrictions are applied.
One of the more liberal bills which has been put forward by the ruling Civic Platform party, and which stands a good chance of being voted through, would make it extremely hard for couples to freeze fertilized embryos for future pregnancy attempts.
A fertility therapist at Lewandowski's 'Novum' clinic explained the repercussions for such a restriction
"If these regulations go through it affects families in a way that there might not be families," said Caitlin Donovan.
"The process of stimulating a patient, going through an egg retrieval, having an embryo transfer is emotionally, physically and financially stressful. And so now we're asking people to go through this more often because we can't freeze the eggs that you produced last cycle. We're asking people to be tired, to be worn out and to be broke," she added.
Monicka Rozycka, a mother of two children born with the help of frozen embryo treatment at Warsaw's Novum clinic, says she has been shunned by her local church for using IVF.
"I generally feel very bad because I am a Catholic. I stopped going to church because I'm just worried about what we can hear from the Priest. My children know how they were created and they also know that there is nothing wrong with it. We couldn't have them on our own, therefore we needed some medical help. Very normal, like with any other medical problem," she said.
"The church has already called us Herods. The church has already called our children young Frankenstein. We were ex-communicated. I can not have communion on Sunday anyway. I know that there are politicians that are being threatened with excommunication as well. We were recently told that we were on going this sophisticated abortion," added Rozycka.
The average cost of IVF at the Novum centre is between 8,000 to 12, 000 Polish Zloty's (1800- 2700 GBP or 2800-4200 USD).
Protests against the tabled restrictive regulations, lead by leading liberal politicians are planned for Thursday (October 28).
The vote is due on Friday (October 29).
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