The Rise of Reprotourism

Why Couples Travel for IVF

Surrogate mothers pose for a photograph inside a temporary home for surrogates provided by Akanksha IVF centre in Anand town, about 44 miles south of the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, August 27, 2013. Mansi Thapliyal / Reuters

For many women—and men—around the world, infertility is a dire burden that comes with intense social stigma and community ostracism. It can lead to marital duress, divorce, and abandonment. No wonder, then, that many infertile couples are willing to undertake extensive reproductive travel to have kids.

In the twenty-first century, infertile women and men who cross national and international borders in pursuit of conception through IVF are often called “reproductive tourists.” It is fair to claim that reproductive tourism is as old as IVF itself. For example, Lesley Brown, the world’s first test-tube mother, would be considered a reproductive tourist by today’s standards. She and her husband John traveled across southern England (from Bristol to Cambridge) to meet the inventors of IVF, Cambridge University professor Robert G. Edwards and his physician partner, Dr. Patrick Steptoe. The world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was delivered on

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