A new law on in vitro fertilisation (IVF) came into force yesterday, including fertility clinics needing to have a certificate from the Ministry of Health. Some fertility clinics will have to stop the treatments within 24 hours. Today the head of the Ministry of Health Marian Zembala will decide whether to extend funding of the government programme to reimburse the treatment.

Will in vitro be re-funded?

Will in vitro be re-funded?

Although formally the new law has been in force since yesterday, clinics conducting in vitro treatments can apply for a special certificate issued by the Ministry of Health from today. This is the so-called “adjustment programme” – until endorsed by the Ministry, a clinic which does not have such a document can not carry out in vitro fertilisation.

The law on the infertility treatment, prepared by the departing government, allows the use of the in vitro procedure by married couples and couples in cohabitation confirmed by a statement. In vitro treatment can only be undertaken when other treatments, carried out for at least one year, have failed.

The Act specifies the manner and conditions of the treatment, but funding is to be determined in separate regulations. Currently, the procedure of in vitro treatment is reimbursed under the government programme. In early October, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz announced the extension of the programme for another three years – until 2019. Today health minister Marian Zembala will make a decision in this case.

IVF unlikely to remain in the new government

However, the new rightwing government criticises the new regulations. PiS (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość – Law and Justice) politicians do not say clearly what their plans are for the act on IVF, but they definitely oppose to the financing of the treatment from public funds.

In the past PiS attempted to ban in vitro. In the 2007-11 term they created two projects – one by Bolesław Piecha, which prohibited the use of this method, but allowed for the possibility of so-called adoption of embryos that already exist and are frozen. The second – by Teresa Wargocka – prohibiting the in vitro treatment, the manipulation of human genetic information, and production and destruction of embryos. This project was rejected by the Parliament at an early stage.

In the next term of office PiS submitted another two projects – the previous project by Bolesław Piecha (some of its provisions were changed), which the MPs did not have enough time to look into before the end of the 2007-11 term, and a new project of Jan Dziedziczak – proposing “prohibition of causing the death of a human embryo” and banning the creation of embryos outside a woman’s body. Only the first project was considered by the Parliament, it was, however, rejected.

Thus the new law might only be in force for a short while. Even the Prime Minister candidate Beata Szydło said in her electoral campaign that “this is a very serious problem and it needs to be talked about”, so we should not put all our eggs in one basket and expect the act to be left unchanged.

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