Polish justice minister fired after embryo remarks

AP News
Posted: Apr 29, 2013 12:47 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Monday fired his justice minister, who made comments alleging Germans may be experimenting on Polish embryos from in vitro fertilization procedures.

Jaroslaw Gowin was the second Cabinet minister to be dismissed by Tusk this month. He is to be replaced by former interior minister Marek Biernacki, a lawyer.

Tusk said he appreciated Gowin's efforts to reform Poland's justice system, but that the "problems that he started to pose and the danger that he stared to generate" outweighed the good work.

He said Gowin has failed to convincingly explain to the Cabinet his meaning when he alleged in a television interview that, "German scientists are importing embryos from other countries, probably also from Poland, and conducting experiments on them."

Gowin, a staunch Catholic who opposes in vitro fertilization, said he wanted to draw attention to a lack of legal protection in Poland of embryos that are created in such procedures. Germany bans any medical tests on German embryonic cells, but allows imports.

Referencing German experiments has an additional negative connotation in Poland, where during World War II the Nazi Germans carried out cruel pseudo-medical experiments on Jewish and Polish prisoners.

Gowin leads a conservative faction in the ruling Civic Platform party and is believed to be competing with Tusk for the party leadership. In January, he voted against the party's draft law that would have guaranteed inheritance and other rights to same-sex couples.

The prime minister also recently replaced the treasury minister for allegedly lax oversight of state companies.