Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three years jail for IVF?

The “Contra In Vitro” Committee For Legislative Initiative is seeking 100,000 signatures to initiate a Project to change the civil code regarding the implementation of in vitro fertilization in Poland.

Head of the committee, Jacek Kotula, from Tyczyn in southeastern Poland, claims that the group aims to propose legislation before the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, after collecting enough signatures.

The Committee would like to amend Civil Code 160 to establish a law to the tune whoever engages in fertilization of an egg cell (fertilization by in vitro) outside of a mother’s body will face up to three years in prison. Article 160 that the group seeks to make law a prison sentence for endangering one’s life or for actions leading to the detriment the health.

As well, the group has proposed a law to imprison (for between five and 25 years) one who engages in embryonic stem cell research.

The “Contra In Vitro” Committee has declared that they are mounting a campaign to seek signatures all over Poland in order to initiate legislative in parliament on the issue. They have sought the aid of Catholic churches, asking priests to appeal for signatures during their sermons in mass.

“We are collecting signatures with the permission of the Bishop of Elk. For the past few days we have been collecting signatures and PESEL [identification] numbers,” states Father Jacek Uchan of the Elk parish, northeastern Poland.

The Catholic Church stands officially against in vitro fertilization and the Polish Federation of the Society of Catholic Families functions in Poland to uphold this stance.

Currently, Poland does not have established laws to address the specific issue of in vitro fertilization and the government, led by Civic Platform, has put together a bioethics committee to analyze the issue and propose legislation. The project is expected to regulate in vitro procedures including protecting the rights of an embryo, forbidding the sale of sperm and eggs, as well as banning the selection of eggs for fertilization.