Poland changed its laws regarding IVF, denying women access to their own embryos

IVF had been available in Poland for years, but, as Anna Louie Sussman explains for The New Yorker, it became a wedge issue:

Anti-IVF rhetoric takes a number of forms. Polish politicians and religious leaders have sometimes described IVF using nationalistic overtones that scholars have connected to a resurgent anti-Semitism. Catholic media routinely depict children conceived through IVF as unnatural and genetically suspect; in a survey of Polish articles about IVF children, Radkowska-Walkowicz found that they were often characterized as suffering from physical deformities, such as a protruding forehead or dangling tongue, or from mental illnesses, including "survivor syndrome" in relation to unused embryos. (There is no evidence for these claims.) These purported defects are said to go undetected—and so, Radkowska-Walkowicz writes, IVF children are imagined to lurk among the general population, their "biological otherness" polluting the Polish body politic.

Other IVF opponents position themselves as protectors of frozen embryos. In Poland, the political scientist Janine P. Holc writes, the embryo is sometimes seen as "the purest citizen"—an unformed innocent in need of protection by the Polish constitution. Anna Krawczak, a doctoral candidate at the University of Warsaw and the former chairperson of the patient-advocacy group Nasz Bocian (the name means "Our Stork"), which has fought for a more inclusive IVF law, told me that IVF opponents have found inventive ways of linking the procedure to abortion. Protesters gather in front of IVF clinics holding posters that show images of human fetuses, icy blue against a black background.

Some of the lawyers and doctors I spoke to believe that, although most media coverage of the IVF law focussed on how single women would be affected, its restrictions were actually designed with queer people in mind. Queer couples in Poland can neither marry nor form civil unions; if they have children while abroad, they must hire lawyers to request citizenship for those children, and it is granted only on a case-by-case basis.

Rather than outlawing IVF entirely, Poland passed a "compromise" law that applied to embryos that had already been frozen:

The law was now in effect, and, as a single woman, she was blocked from accessing her own frozen embryos unless she could convince a male friend to sign with her. This would make him financially liable for her child and grant him custody rights. Moreover, another provision in the law, intended to insure that unused embryos wouldn't be destroyed, mandated that they be donated to an infertile heterosexual couple if they weren't used within twenty years.

There's still hope for embryo donors, however. They can try to ship the embryo to another country . . . if they can find a clinic willing to accept transfer. You can read about that challenging process at The New Yorker.

(IVF example via Wikipedia.)