Poland to cut state IVF funding
Dr Rosie Morley
Progress Educational Trust07 December 2015
The newly elected conservative government in Poland plans to cut state funding for IVF, two years after the scheme was introduced.
Poland was one of the last countries in Europe to introduce state funding for IVF, under the previous administration in 2013. They had planned to extend state funding until 2019. However, the newly elected Catholic Law and Justice party (PiS) has signalled its intention to end state funding altogether.
'The in vitro programme will be kept in place until the middle of next year. After that, it will no longer be pursued,' said Polish Health Minister Mikolaj Radziwill. 'We are only talking about [ending] the programme financed by the state, using hundreds of millions of zlotys, which we cannot afford.' Privately funded fertility treatment will remain available in the country.
The state-funded programme has so far cost 110 million zlotys (approximately £20 million), and funding until 2019 was expected to cost up to 300 million zlotys. The PiS, which was elected in October this year, has committed itself to an increase in public spending, including a new family benefit costing 16 billion zlotys annually.
Critics of the decision have said the removal of state funding for IVF will deprive millions of couples in Poland, which has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, the chance to conceive. Yahoo News reported the former Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz as saying: 'It affects close to a million couples in Poland who don't have the financial means to pay for this expensive treatment out of pocket.'
However, the influential Polish Catholic Church opposes IVF because it claims that discarding unwanted embryos amounts to the destruction of 'unborn children'. Speaking in July during debates on a new law regulating all provision of IVF in the country, Archbishop Andrzej Dziega said the rules were 'criminal'.
'You have prepared a criminal law, because it deprives a human being of humanity, a living, conceived human being,' Dziega told lawmakers. The PiS has said it will attempt to amend the bill, which was approved by the former government, as it does not offer enough protection to embryos.
Last June the European Court ruled that Poland had failed to meet standards set by the EU on the storage and processing of human tissue and cells, including sperm, eggs and embryonic tissue.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.