Fertility Tourism

commercial surrogacy by sandeep joshi

Fertility tourism or reproductive tourism is the practice of traveling to another country for fertility treatments. It may be regarded as a form of medical tourism. The main reasons for fertility tourism are legal regulation of the sought procedure in the home country, or lower price. In-vitro fertilization and donor insemination are major procedures involved. It has been proposed to be termed ‘reproductive exile’ to emphasis the difficulties and constraints faced by infertile patients, who are ‘forced’ to travel globally for reproductive procedures.

There is generally a demand for sperm donors who have no genetic problems in their family, 20/20 eyesight, a college degree, and sometimes a value on a certain height, age, eye color, hair texture, blood type and ethnicity. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the inventory of taller men who are blonde and blue eyed is most popular.

Israel is the leading fertility tourism destination for In-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, having the highest number of fertility clinics per capita in the world. The United States is chosen by many Europeans because of the higher success rates and lenient regulations. In turn, India and Asia are the main destinations for U.S. women leaving the country for their fertility care. Many travel from countries like Germany and Italy, which are very restrictive of the number of eggs that may be fertilized and how many embryos can be used for implantation or cryopreservation. Even small countries such as Barbados provide accredited IVF care aimed at patients from abroad.

Many countries have no restriction on how many eggs may be implanted into the uterus at the same time, increasing the risk of multiple pregnancy and resultant potential complications. The burden of multiple births generated by placing too many embryos is carried by the patients and the home country.

Egg donation is illegal in a number of European countries including Germany, Austria, and Italy. Many couples will seek help in places where the procedure is allowed such as Spain and the United States where donors are paid for their service. Almost half of all IVF treatments with donor eggs in Europe are performed in Spain. IVF with anonymous egg donation is also the main assisted reproductive technology sought by Canadians traveling to the U.S.

There is fertility tourism from the United Kingdom to the United States for sex selection, because preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD, a potential expansion of IVF), which can be used for sex selection, is prohibited in the UK, except when it is used to screen for genetic diseases, while the laws in the US are more relaxed in this subject.

Some countries such as United Kingdom and Sweden, have a shortage of sperm donors. As a consequence, British women traveled to Belgium and Spain for donor insemination, until those two countries changed their laws and imposed a maximum number of children one donor may produce. Prior to the change in the law, the limit in the number of children born to each donor depended upon practitioners at fertility clinics, and Belgian and Spanish clinics were purchasing donor sperm from abroad to satisfy demand for treatments.

Anonymous donation was permitted in Belgium and is a legal requirement in Spain. Ironically, at the time, many Belgian and Spanish clinics were buying sperm from British clinics donated by British donors whose local limit of ten families in the UK had not been reached, and they were able to use that sperm according to local laws and limits. British fertility tourists must therefore now travel to other countries particularly those that do not include children born to foreigners in their national totals of children produced by each donor.

India is a main destination for surrogacy. Indian surrogates have been increasingly popular with fertile couples in industrialized nations because of the relatively low cost. Indian clinics are at the same time becoming more competitive, not just in the pricing, but in the hiring and retention of Indian females as surrogates. Clinics charge patients between $10,000 and $28,000 for the complete package, including fertilization, the surrogate’s fee, and delivery of the baby at a hospital. Including the costs of flight tickets, medical procedures and hotels, it comes to roughly a third of the price compared with going through the procedure in the UK.

Liberal legislation also makes Russia attractive for eproductive tourists looking for techniques not available in their countries. Intended parents come there for oocyte donation, because of advanced age or marital status (single women and single men) and when surrogacy is considered. Gestational surrogacy, even commercial is absolutely legal in Russia, being available for practically all adults willing to be parents.

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