No hope left: Catholic Church attacks IVF in Poland

The Roman Catholic Church has lambasted the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and has taken steps to have it banned altogether, while for some families it is the only way to have children in Poland.

IVF treatment, which is when a fertilized egg is implanted into the womb, is not officially legal in Poland, even though it has been practiced for years. Some politicians wanted it legalized, but an open critical letter from the Catholic Church, signed by almost 200,000 people, sparked a debate in parliament.

Now some are saying that the technology should be completely banned, something IVF specialists say would be a massive blow to infertile couples.

Pyotr Lewandowski from Warsaw’s Novum Clinic advises: “They should travel to Russia, Ukraine or the Czech Republic – our neighbors where you can use this method [of conception]. It is cruel for a society to push people away from their country for them to be healthy or have a baby.”

Poles against this method point towards a technique gathering momentum worldwide – Natural Procreative Technology, also known as “NaPro”. The method offers natural ways of treating infertility, one welcomed by the Catholic Church.

“The basis of diagnosis is observing a woman’s cycle. So many couples who have failed with IVF treatment come to a NaPro doctor. The doctor then examines the problem, and upon viewing the second cycle he can say: This is the problem,” told RT Joanna Najfeld, NaPro spokesperson.

NaPro is still very much in the shadow of the well-established IVF approach which boasts tens of thousands of successful pregnancies. Even with that statistic in mind, deeply Catholic Poles Adam and Beata Musiatewicz – struggling to have a baby – have opted for the natural procreative approach.

“If only IVF [is available], then we would not choose it,” said Adam and Beata. Answering the question whether they would rather have no babies at all, they said: “Yes, probably like that.”

The issue of whether NaPro treatment can work is exacerbated by the fact that Poland is a country not only driven by a wish to have children, due to its high infertility rates, but is also a matter of morality.