Poland's New Parliament Brings Back State Financing For In Vitro Fertilization

Poland's President Andrzej Duda speaks during a ceremony where he swore in Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and a new Cabinet in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday Nov. 27, 2023. Duda swore in a government that is expected to last no longer than 14 days, a tactical maneuver that allows the conservative Law and Justice party to hang onto power a bit longer — and make more appointments to state bodies. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Poland's President Andrzej Duda speaks during a ceremony where he swore in Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and a new Cabinet in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday Nov. 27, 2023. Duda swore in a government that is expected to last no longer than 14 days, a tactical maneuver that allows the conservative Law and Justice party to hang onto power a bit longer — and make more appointments to state bodies. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s new parliament on Wednesday reinstated government funding for in vitro fertilization, previously banned by the conservative party which lost control of the legislature in the country's recent general election.

The parliament, which began its term this month, has made a point of reversing the ban in one of its first moves as it sets on changing various controversial or restrictive laws introduced by the conservative government.

Following a heated debate, lawmakers voted 268-118, with 50 abstentions, to guarantee state funding for IVF procedures, estimated at some 500 million zlotys ($125 million) a year.

An aide to President Andrzej Duda, who is an ally of the conservative government, suggested last week that Duda may not use his power of veto against the new law. However, Marcin Mastelerek stressed that the final decision was with the president.

State funding of IVF was introduced in 2013 by a liberal government led by Donald Tusk, but the conservative government of Law and Justice party banned it in 2016 in one of its first moves, saying the procedure involved destroying human embryos.

Some 22,000 children were born during the program’s existence, according to Health Ministry figures. More than 100,000 children have been born through IVF since the procedure was first performed in Poland in 1987.

Wednesday's vote underlined the strength of the new centrist majority in parliament, following the Oct. 15 general election. A centrist Cabinet is expected to replace the conservative government next month.

A coalition of pro-European Union parties won a majority of seats in the vote and has embarked on reversing some of the laws they see as restrictive and which had at times created tensions between Warsaw and Brussels and led to the freezing of some of EU funds for Poland.

A new coalition government led by former prime minister and former EU top figure, Donald Tusk, is expected to be in place in mid-December, but Duda gave Law and Justice the first shot at forming the Cabinet because the party was the biggest single vote-getter in the election.