By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WARSAW, June 23, 2009 ( – During a meeting of the Polish Bishops' Conference Plenary last week, the bishops of Poland issued a statement in support of a draft law submitted to the Polish parliament by the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Boleslaw Piecha, which provides for a complete ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures.

“This draft is in line with the Catholic Church's position expressed in the Vatican's official instruction, the position of the Church in Poland, and that of Polish Catholics,” stated Bishop Stanislaw Budzik at a press conference on Saturday.

“Although,” he said, “the Church realizes that the chances of the draft being passed are 'slim,' its provisions are in keeping with the spirit of Church teaching.”

The Polish daily newspaper, Nasz Dziennik, indicates that more than 100 Members of Parliament have signed an endorsement of the draft law on the protection of the human genome and human embryos, which will be brought before the Diet for deliberation by all parties in the fall session of Parliament.

Archbishop Jozef Michalik, chairman of the Episcopate, said that it didn't matter for the Church which parties lent their support to the legislative proposal as long as they understood the Church's position on the need to protect all human life from the moment of conception and its condemnation of in vitro fertilization, where embryos are routinely destroyed.

“What we are interested in is their (the parties) compatibility with the principles of Church ethics, natural law and God's law,” he told the press, and added that support for IVF was like “paying for murder.”

The bishop of Warsaw-Praga, Archbishop Hoser, praised the strong pro-life approach of the proposed legislation.

“The point of departure for the Piecha draft is an unconditional respect for, and protection of, the human genome and embryo. A draft that bans extracorporeal fertilisation is closer to Church teaching and generally in conformity with it,” explained Archbishop Hoser in an interview with the Polish Catholic News Agency (KAI).

Archbishop Hoser also praised a radical draft submitted by the 'Contra in Vitro' Legislative Initiative Committee, which calls for not only a ban on IVF but also for prison sentences for doctors performing it.

Contra in Vitro chairman, Jacek Kotula, said that the group plans to propose legislation before the Sejm, the Lower House of Parliament, to introduce changes into the civil code that would establish a law providing that whoever engages in fertilization of an egg cell outside of a mother's body will face up to three years in prison. It will also call for between 5 and 25 years in prison for anyone engaging in embryonic stem cell research.

Archbishop Hoser said the Episcopate will discuss the IVF regulation proposals with government officials during the upcoming meeting of the government and Episcopate Joint Commission on June 25th.

See related LSN coverage:

Polish Bishop Supports Criminalization of IVF, Embryo Research


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