New Polish school textbook provokes anger over section on fertility

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Poland’s conservative government has been criticised over a new school textbook that appears to disparage in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

Opponents say the country’s school curriculum is attempting to indoctrinate children with traditional ideologies.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice party (PiS) has close ties to the Roman Catholic church and regularly promotes conservative social policies.

Amid strict abortion laws, PiS has also ended a national programme that helped fund fertility treatments for couples.

The country’s education ministry has dismissed the latest criticism and pointed out that the controversial book in question does not directly refer to IVF.

The government has also stressed that Polish teachers remain free to choose which textbooks to use for the next school year.

What does the book say?

The author of History and the Present says the controversial passage describes modern approaches to sexuality and childbearing.

“Increasingly sophisticated methods of separating sex from love and fertility lead to the treatment of sex as entertainment and fertility as human production, one could say breeding. This raises a fundamental question: who will love the children thus produced?” it reads.

“You can read that children conceived using IVF are children from breeding farms that no one loves,” said Donald Tusk, the leader of the centrist opposition party Civic Platform.

But Poland’s education ministry has said that only a mind “sick and mad with hatred” would interpret the passage that way.

Education minister Premyslaw Czarnek has insisted that the government did not author or publish the book and has even threatened to sue Tusk if the former European Council president does not apologise.

Meanwhile, one online appeal to try and block the distribution of the book has raised over 280,000 zlotys (€60,000).

Another passage in the book — under a section titled “Ideology and Nazism” — says that a number of popular ideologies include socialism, liberalism, feminism and gender ideology.