Poland will begin funding in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) starting in July 2013, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced on Monday, despite Church resistance in this deeply Catholic nation to what opponents see as artificial conception.
"Couples will have the possibility to get reimbursement from the social security budget for three attempts at IVF," Tusk told reporters.
"Initially, only the IVF procedure itself will be covered, while couples will have to pay for the medication themselves. But in the future, the medication will be reimbursed," he added.
IVF involves placing an egg and sperm together in a petri dish for conception. In a sub-category known as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), the sperm is inserted with a micro-needle directly into the egg.
Poles who want IVF currently have to cover all the costs themselves, and there is no legal framework for the treatment, which for some couples is the only way to have their own children.
Tusk said the Polish state would spend 50 million zloty (12 million euros, $16 million) on covering IVF costs next year, before lifting the sum to an annual 100 million zloty.
Tusk's centrist Civic Platform party, in power since 2007, struggled to find a consensus within its own ranks on the IVF issue.
More than 90 percent of Poland's 38 million people declare themselves to be Roman Catholic, and the Church has considerable clout.
The Vatican considers IVF immoral because of the wastage of a large number of embryos.
Several draft laws related to IVF are working their way through parliament.
The conservative opposition Law and Justice party has pushed to ban IVF outright, proposing jail for anyone who opts for the method.
Tusk said the parliamentary conflict made it even more important for the government to take a stance.
"We have a kind of blockage in parliament, with diverging views, and this risks lasting a long time. The aim of the new programme is to guarantee the security of the patients and embryos, and enable an equal access for highly expensive procedures," he said.