Hopping mad: critics slam 'breed like rabbits' govt health clip

Critics called the health ministry's rabbit-themed fertility clip "offensive", "infantile" and "irresponsible"

Poland's rightwing government has critics hopping mad over a public health video clip encouraging Poles to "breed like rabbits", as the EU country faces sharp population decline. The clip is one of a string of often controversial measures the Law and Justice (PiS) administration has introduced since taking power in late 2015 to boost the devoutly Catholic country's birth-rate, which is among Europe's lowest. Encouraging Poles to pursue a healthy lifestyle to boost fertility, it shows dozens of floppy-eared rabbits hopping on grass and munching on carrots and cabbage. "We rabbits know a thing or two about how to have a lot of offspring," says a male narrator impersonating a rabbit in the 30-second clip reported to have cost the health ministry 2.7 million zloty (637,000 euros, $742,300). One rabbit wearing sunglasses yawns as it relaxes while another hops off an upside-down martini glass. The narrator goes on to say: "You want to know our secret? Firstly, we get around a lot. Secondly, we eat well. Thirdly, we don't sweat the small stuff. Fourthly, we don't booze it up. "So if you want to become a parent, follow our example. I know what I'm talking about: My dad had 63 of us!" The UN's 2017 World Population Prospects report forecasts a steady plunge in the number of Poles, down from the current 38.2 million percent to 36.6 million by 2030, then 32.4 million by 2050, plummeting to 21.2 million by 2100. Health ministry plans call for the clip to be aired until the end of the year, but critics who dub it "offensive", "infantile" and "irresponsible" are not amused. Ewa Kopacz, Poland's former liberal prime minister who is also a physician and former health minister, said the money spent on the clip would have been better used helping couples to conceive through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The PiS government cut state funding for IVF, which involves fertilising an egg outside a woman's body to produce an embryo that can then be implanted into her womb. Last year, the PiS also tried to tighten the already restrictive abortion law but buckled under pressure from nationwide protests. Eyeing a baby boom, the PiS government also introduced the "500+" child benefit granting 500 zloty (118 euros, $137) per child for families with more than one offspring. PiS Health Minister Konstanty Radziwill is defending the controversial video clip. "There are people who don't like this rather likeable video clip and I understand their feelings, but I think that provoking a discussion about this topic (low birth rate) is also important," he told Polish media.

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