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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

IVF bill stalls in Senate committee

The Senate Health Committee has voted to reject a bill recently passed by the Sejm, or lower house of parliament, on IVF.

While the upper house, or Senate, has yet to vote on the legislation either in its original or amended form, the committee’s decision is likely to slow down the process of getting the bill through the legislature before the president signs off on it.

With incumbent Civil Platform’s (PO) Bronisław Komorowski - who supports the bill in full - leaving office on 6 August the ruling party wants to get the bill passed through the upper house as soon as possible.

The main opposition party, Law and Justice (PiS), has said it will overturn IVF legislation if it wins the election in the autumn. PiS’s Andrzej Duda won the presidential election in May and said he would not sign the bill into law.

The Sejm voted on 25 June to make married and unwed couples eligible for IVF if other treatments give no results within 12 months.

It voted 261 for, 176 against, with six abstentions. PiS voted against, saying IVF breaks the constitutional right to life. It also warned it may take the bill to a special court that rules on the constitutionality of new laws. The Catholic Church also opposes the bill.

Two PO senators didn’t make it to the committee vote and one, Helena Hatka, abstained.

Hatka told journalists she had abstained because she and several PO colleagues planned to introduce a raft of changes to the legislation during the Senate discussion this month.

“I do not propose a revolution, just making order where we need order, so that the bill would be in line with the law and take into account the subjectivity of the child,” Hatka said.

The amendments would change the definition of an embryo, and limit application of IVF fertilisation methods only to married couples, while restricting the number to a maximum of three attempts.

Deputy Health Minister Igor Radziewicz Winnicki told journalists that these proposed changes had not been consulted with the government.

The deputy leader of PO senators Łukasz Abgarowicz said PO would support the bill in its full original form.

The senate will debate the bill starting 9 July.

A poll in May found that less than 50 percent of younger Poles aged 18-24 support in-vitro fertilisation. The survey, undertaken by SW Research for the Newsweek Polska weekly, revealed that only 46.4 percent of Poles in the age bracket are for the fertilisation treatment.


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