Polish president rejects church pleas and signs IVF treatment refund into law

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Polish President Andrzej Duda has signed into law a bill restoring state funding for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, which had been removed under the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government on financial grounds, and also because of doubts expressed by the Catholic Church regarding the treatment. 

It was the first time the president, a PiS ally, was called on to approve legislation after the formation of the liberal government led by Donald Tusk. The newly signed bill assumes annual state funding of at least €116 million for IVF treatment. 

President Duda signed the bill into law despite the Episcopate’s opposition, arguing in a statement that he had “taken into account the fact that the in vitro method raises concerns of an ethical nature in the opinion of part of society,” adding that he would submit a further bill to provide financing for other forms of fertility treatment. He also cited “demographic challenges,” as a reason for supporting the legislation, noting the decline in Poland’s birth rate. 

Duda’s decision was criticized by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the head of the Polish Episcopal Conference (KEP), on commercial TVN24, who said that the president’s reasoning belied his lack of understanding of bioethical issues, which are admittedly “complicated.”

The archbishop said it was understandable that the public felt it was “better to have children than not to have them” and it was not surprising the head of state felt the same and chose to “follow the crowd” rather than consider bioethical issues. According to Archbishop Gądecki, “this also indicates a misunderstanding of the whole problem, which, unfortunately, has not reached this Christian consciousness.”

Wojciech Kolarski, President Duda’s aide, noted that the legislation was not on the IVF treatment itself, but was about the way it is funded and that public funding for it was already being provided by some local governments.

He added that the legislative initiative that the president chose to sign into law was a result of a citizens’ petition and that it had been supported by many MPs from all parties, including the PiS.  

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