Poland’s new right-wing government will cut all state funding for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) introduced by the previous liberal administration despite staunch opposition from the influential Catholic Church.

“The in vitro programme will be kept in place until the middle of next year. After that, it will no longer be pursued,” Health Minister Mikolaj Radziwill told a parliamentary commission late Tuesday, quoted by PAP news agency.

Government spokeswoman Elzbieta Witek told reporters Wednesday that IVF treatment would nevertheless still be allowed.

The conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) that returned to power in October elections after eight years in opposition, and which is closely allied with the Catholic Church, has long vowed to end state funding for IVF treatment.

The previous centrist Civic Platform (PO) government adopted a law in June that made IVF treatment reimbursable, while at the same time introducing measures to prevent trade in embryos.

PiS had at the time pushed for a ban on IVF, proposing jail for physicians using the method.

Former prime minister Ewa Kopacz, a trained physician who was behind the push to subsidise IVF, said the new government’s plan to pull the plug on the funding programme was “harmful”.

“It affects close to a million couples in Poland who don’t have the financial means to pay for this expensive treatment out of pocket,” she said.

IVF treatment is used by couples unable to conceive. It consists of fertilising an egg outside a woman’s body to produce an embryo that can then be implanted in her womb.

An EU member of 38 million people, Poland is struggling to boost low birth rates.