The Act on the infertility treatment – what kind of changes can patients expect?

On 1st November 2015, a new Act on the treatment of infertility came into force. Contrary to its name, in fact, the Act mainly regulates issues concerning the use of in vitro fertilization – an area previously not covered by any legal regulations in our country. What does it really mean for those who already are under such treatment or are planning such treatment?
First of all, the Act does not address the issue of financing the treatment and it should be emphasized that the provisions will apply to all patients, regardless of whether they will finance “in vitro” on their own, or will use the reimbursement of medical costs (recall that until June 2016, the program of the Ministry of Health is in progress, in which couples qualified for the treatment bear only the cost of medications).

After 1st November “in vitro” will be available only for couples who are married or in cohabitation. In the latter case, if the procedure involves the use of cells or embryos derived from the donation – the treatment will have to be preceded by the submission of a declaration by a partner in the Registry Office to recognize the paternity of a child who is to be born as a result of the treatment. Such a declaration will be valid for 2 years from the date it has been submitted.

It will not be possible to treat single women or women in homosexual relationships (previously it was possible through the use in the treatment of anonymous donor sperm or embryo donation procedures).

The Act limits the maximum number of oocytes for fertilization to 6, regardless of the number of retrieved cells. The exception are women who are at least 35 years old, patients on whom the “in vitro” program was performed twice unsuccessfully and those who have a doctor’s opinion declaring that “there are medical indications resulting from the disease coexisting with infertility”.

The Act mostly concerns the issue of donation of reproductive cells and embryos. Only anonymous donations will be possible, however, the rules forbid, under the penalty of imprisonment, to obtain a donation for financial benefits – only compensation for costs incurred while taking gametes will be possible. The Ministry of Health will keep records of all donors, and recipients of gametes and embryos.

All the centers, which, on 1st November 2015 will perform in vitro fertilization must submit a program adjusting the procedures concerning the stored (frozen) gametes and embryos to the conditions of the Act. Until the moment when the Minister of Health accepts such a program, a clinic does not have the right to use frozen reproductive cells and embryos in the treatment.