The father of a girl born as a result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) says he will sue the education minister and the author of a textbook for a new school subject, after raising more than ten times his original target in a crowdfunding campaign. The book compares IVF to “human breeding” and asks rhetorically “who will love such children?”
The launch of the textbook, to be used in Polish high schools from September, and the new subject itself, History and the Present (Historia i Teraźniejszość), have drawn criticism from various politicians and activists, with the opposition saying the new class will be used by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party to promote its conservative agenda.
The passage on the IVF method caused a particularly strong backlash, including the resignation of a scientist, Anna Landau, from a council chaired by the author, Wojciech Roszkowski, when the contents were made available last week.
Oświadczenie prof. Anny Landau o rezygnacji z pracy w Radzie Naukowej ISP PAN. Anna Landau jest pracownikiem naukowym PAN, ale też córką prof. Zbigniewa Landaua – byłego zwierzchnika prof. Roszkowskiego i współautora “Polityki gospodarczej II RP i PRL”. pic.twitter.com/TA2hWdKUKj
— Pamięć / Remembrance (@pamiec_) August 12, 2022
“With medical advances and the offensive of gender ideology, the 21st century has brought further decay to the institution of the family,” Roszkowski writes.
“The inclusive family model currently being promoted involves the creation of arbitrary groups of people sometimes of the same sex, who will bring children into the world separately from the natural union of man and woman, most preferably in a laboratory.”
“Increasingly sophisticated methods of separating sex from love and fertility lead to treating the sphere of sex as entertainment and the sphere of fertility as human production, one might say breeding. This prompts the fundamental question: who will love the children produced in this way?”
Kamil Mieszczankowski, whose daughter was born after IVF treatment, raised his target of 30,000 zloty (€6,400) needed for the lawsuit within six hours. As of Wednesday morning, the amount stood at 302,000 zloty.
Po rozmowie z prawnikami postanowiłem pozwać Ministerstwo Edukacji i Nauki oraz autora podręcznika do HiT. Zwracam się z uprzejmą prośbą o wsparcie, ale zanim mi go udzielicie uważne przeczytanie opis zrzutki.https://t.co/JZEtSscAWv
— Bezczelny Lewak 🇺🇦🇵🇱 (@Lewactwo) August 12, 2022
Mieszczankowski pointed out that IVF is not a method of breeding humans, but a method of treating infertility.
“In Poland, an increasing number of couples have problems with infertility, but apparently those in power are only interested in stigmatising those parents and children who have benefited from the IVF method and thanks to it have loving and full families,” said Mieszczankowski, noting that PiS ended the nationwide IVF programme in 2016.
According to data from the Polish Gynaecological Society, the problem of infertility affects about 1.5 million couples in Poland, around 20% of the population of reproductive age.
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“I will not allow my daughter to have fingers pointed at her in public school as an object of experimentation and a child unloved by her parents, so I will do everything to ensure that by the time she goes to school, this textbook will be a thing of the distant past and an infamous testimony to the times we all live in,” wrote Mieszczankowski.
Responding to the success of his fundraising drive, he added that surplus money will go to various organisations that deal with the broader support of people with infertility.
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Education minister Przemyslaw Czarnek has so far made no public reference to the threat of a lawsuit but announced his own, saying that he would sue the leader of the largest opposition party, Donald Tusk, who had criticised him and the new textbook at a meeting with voters.
“Czarnek has come up with such a textbook to teach our children about history and the present. There are all sorts of very strange, sometimes terrible theses in there. Today I discovered a tiny chapter on in vitro babies. In this textbook, Czarnek and his associates included such words that children from in vitro, this is human breeding,” said Tusk.
In the pre-trial letter, the minister argued that neither he nor the education ministry was the author. However, he conceived the subject and the ministry accepted the contents of the textbook, which Czarnek promoted at a recent teachers’ conference. It is currently the only approved text0, although one other publisher has also submitted its proposal.
Main photo credit: Adam Stępień/Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.