By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WARSAW, October 20, 2010 ( – A letter from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate delivered on October 18 to Poland's president Bronislaw Komorowski, and to the country's prime minister and other leaders in parliament, has condemned proposed legislation seeking to legalize in vitro fertilization.

“Since Parliament is again deliberating the matter of the legal regulation of IVF methods, we must raise our voice to ensure that the serious moral arguments and respect for the position of those who regard the right of the defense of life of every person as the primary moral principle are not overlooked,” the bishops' letter begins.

They state that IVF “comes at a great human cost – for one child to be born, death is caused to many human beings at various stages of the medical procedure. Science and faith emphasize that, from the moment of conception, we are dealing with a human being, the human person in the embryonic phase.”

The bishops further note the studies showing that IVF causes greater risks of abnormalities and diseases for children conceived in this way. “The effect of this procedure is less resistance, prematurity, underweight, complications, and the frequent incidence of various genetic disorders. This method is just so dangerous for children conceived by it.”

Recalling the “worst connotations of a not-so-distant history,” the bishops called IVF “a younger sister to eugenics – allegedly also a medical procedure. The IVF procedure presupposes ‘selection’ of embryos, which means killing them. It's about eliminating the weaker human embryos, diagnosed as defective, which is ‘selective eugenism,’ often reviled by Pope John Paul II and other authorities.”

Emphasis is given to the “incalculable social consequences that can result from the utilization of in vitro fertilization” and the consequent “redefinition of fatherhood, motherhood, and marital fidelity.”

“The separation of procreation from the marital act always brings harmful social consequences, and is especially detrimental to children coming into the world as a result of actions by third parties. It also introduces confusion in family relationships and contributes to undermining the foundations of social life.”

The bishops call for real infertility treatment to be undertaken, emphasizing that people who use IVF, which does not treat the underlying cause of infertility, are afterward still infertile.

“At the same time, there is an urgent need for programs aimed at preventing infertility, whose causes are known and determined by willful human activity,” the bishops write, “and for the treatment of infertility, which lies outside of the purview of IVF technology. People using [this technology] remain infertile and unwell.”

This statement highlights the growing use of NaProTechnology in Poland, which treats the causes of infertility and has a very high success rate.

When used to treat infertility alone, NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology or NPT) has a success rate of 76% in assisting couples to achieve pregnancy – remarkably superior to the 10-15% success rate of in vitro fertilization, and without the enormous financial cost and ethical considerations of in vitro fertilization.

NPT was developed from thirty years of scientific research in the study of the normal and abnormal states of the menstrual and fertility cycles by Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and the National Center for Women's Health in Omaha, Nebraska.

Hundreds of Polish scientists, doctors and medical professionals have called for the government to legislate a statutory ban on artificial (in vitro) fertilization procedures and instead provide full government funding of NaProTechnology.

The Polish bishops close their letter to the government by expressing their sympathy with families struggling with infertility and pay honor to those who, despite their personal trouble, uphold their Christian values and are open to adoption of children.

In a personal note of warning, Archbishop Henryk Hoser, Chairman of the Panel of Experts on Bioethics of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate, said in an interview with the Polish Press Agency on October 15 that Parliamentarians who chose to support IVF, “will automatically find themselves outside of the Church.”

This statement caused great uproar among IVF proponents, but was lauded by those opposed.

Jaroslaw Gowin, a ruling party politician who considers himself to be Catholic, but still sponsors legislation legalizing IVF with certain limitations, said in an interview with TOK FM radio, “The archbishop's words threatening parliamentarians who support IVF make an impression.” However he went on to say that, “The voice of the bishops has not influenced my way of thinking.”

Polish pro-life commentator Joanna Najfeld told LifeSiteNews she was “appalled” by the push to legalize IVF and pointed out that financial gain for IVF practitioners rather than help for infertile couples seemed to be the motivating factor.

“I am appalled at how our government and some parliamentarians are pushing for the legalization of IVF in Poland. It's all about money. Bloody money,” Najfeld stated. “There are absolutely no rational reasons to support IVF. It costs the lives of people, it destroys the health of mothers and babies. Patients with infertility should be offered real medicine – professional treatment of issues underlying infertility, which the IVF industry has no idea about.”

“We know that NaProTechnology offers professional, highly advanced medicine, that is much more effective than IVF, far less costly, completely ethical and risk-free,” said Najfeld. “It is spreading in Poland and we have great hopes for it. If anybody truly cares for the needs of subfertile couples, they should support real procreative medicine, not artificial reproduction techniques.”

The full text of the Polish bishops' letter (in Polish) is available here.

Information on NaProTechnology may be obtained from the following websites:

The Pope Paul VI Institute

The Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine

The American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals

The Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Network

See related LSN articles:

Open Letter to Polish Parliamentarians on NaProTechnology

100 Polish Scientists Condemn In Vitro Fertilization

Landmark Study Demonstrates Natural IVF Alternative Effective in Helping Infertile Couples Conceive

Fertility Treatment is Hugely Successful but Largely Ignored by Medicine


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