UC Law Journal


As the cost of in vitro fertilization in the West skyrockets and countries enact laws that drastically curtail access to assisted reproduction, couples are turning more and more frequently to fertility tourism. This Article examines the relationship between restrictive reproductive laws, thought to be expressions of local values, and globalization, the ongoing process of worldwide interconnectedness that makes fertility tourism possible. After a discussion of the meaning and causes of fertility tourism, this Article demonstrates how such tourism dampens organized resistance to laws that restrict the available forms of assisted reproduction and thus how globalization itself plays a part in dismantling reproductive choice at the local level.

Storrow then examines the dynamics of fertility tourism at the site of treatment delivery. He notes first how Western Europeans' fertility travel to former Communist-bloc countries has spawned a burgeoning infertility industry promising cut-rate in vitro fertilization, high success rates, liberal reproductive policies, and little administrative oversight. The increased international demand for infertility treatment has triggered a surge in egg donation in countries like Romania, as young women discover that the market for their eggs offers greater financial rewards then they can earn from their labor alone. The resulting higher prices are now beginning to shut some of the local citizenry out of the market for infertility treatment. Fertility tourists, then, denied reproductive opportunity by their own countries, go elsewhere to colonize the reproductive resources of others. In this way, their travel transforms public oppression in one country into private oppression in another.

To place this assessment into perspective, Storrow executes a comparison of fertility tourism with both sex tourism and international adoption to make the point that the global capital generated by new markets for fertility tourism will likely thwart any concerted international response to the inequities and exploitation that arise in this context. Storrow concludes that countries considering bans or restrictions on certain forms of assisted reproduction have an ethical obligation to consider and address the effects that those laws will have on infertile couples and gamete donors in countries that have become the destinations of fertility tourists.

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