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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 5, 2008
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Controversy Over In Vitro Fertilization
November 5, 2008   
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As Poland prepares to ratify a bioethics convention of the Council of Europe, a team of lawyers, physicians, biologists and philosophers are working to prepare the Polish government's position on the matter.

The experts are to come up with recommendations on how Polish law needs to be changed to be brought into compliance with the convention. This includes the need to regulate issues related to in vitro fertilization.

Civic Platform (PO) deputy Jarosław Gowin, who heads the bioethics team, said the team would propose two different sets of recommendations with regard to selected issues, including in vitro fertilization. The prime minister will decide which set, more restrictive or more pragmatic, should be chosen, Gowin said.

Poland signed the bioethics convention in 1997, but has not ratified it yet. The convention is an attempt to define fundamental human rights in the context of progress in biology and medicine. Among the most important aims of the convention is protecting the integrity and dignity of individual.

The convention bans eugenic practices, especially sex selection and in vitro research on embryos. Under the convention, if a country's law permits such research, protection has to be guaranteed for embryos. The convention also bans the production of human embryos for research purposes.

Under the restrictive set of recommendations with regard to in vitro fertilization, an embryo is a human being and should be given the same legal protection as other human beings.

Some members of the bioethics team support a ban on the production of spare embryos for future use, along with a ban on embryo adoption, a ban on examining the embryo before its implantation in the uterus, and a ban on research on stem cells, including non-embryonic cells. They also insist that only married couples should have the right to in vitro fertilization.
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