Vacationing for the purpose of cheaper IVF is the new global fertility market trend

When would-be parents look to spend thousands of dollars to get a baby, the global fertility market is not only booming… they’re turning it into a vacation opportunity.

The Tampa Bay Times recently reported on a new trend: women combining their in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures with a vacation. “Too many will face financial barriers when it comes to accessing medical care they need to build a family,” National Infertility Association CEO and president Barbara Collura said in an e-mail. “Access to family building options shouldn’t depend on someone’s zip code.”

The answer presented to this dilemma is traveling overseas, where women will not only go through IVF at a cheaper price, but might also be able to lounge on a beach.

Popular destinations are Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, and Barbados. In fact, Barbados Fertility Centre medical director Juliet Skinner said 90% of their clients are from the United States. Skinner admitted there are two things which attract women to them: low prices and proximity to the beach. “They’re not running around trying to find a parking space in New York,” Skinner said. “Here, they’re wondering should they lie on the beach or by the pool.”

While one cycle of IVF can cost as much as $20,000 in the United States, it can be up to 40% cheaper in Barbados.

One couple was quoted nearly $30,000 for IVF at a clinic in Tampa, but just $8,000 for treatment in Barbados. The first time they tried, in September of 2022, they did not get pregnant. “It’s a very emotional road,” she said. “Knowing that I went through all of that and the injections are very painful — you put your body through physical pain and stress.” So they traveled back again in 2023, combining a vacation with IVF, and gave birth to a baby girl this January. “No words can capture that moment of hearing her cry,” she said. “The journey didn’t matter, the painful shots didn’t matter — it was just a moment of perfect bliss.”

READ: IVF errors allegedly go unreported as fertility industry balks at further regulation

Another woman, Kendra Rhiley, told the Tampa Bay Times that she, too, traveled to Barbados to undergo IVF after she decided to move forward with motherhood after splitting with her fiancé, and just be a single mother. The Tampa Bay Times, albeit perhaps unintentionally, made the commodification of babies born through IVF clear, reporting, “Her healthy 7½-pound daughter was conceived with donated sperm and implanted in her womb on the Caribbean island. Making her dream baby cost about $20,000.”

While infertility is a heartbreaking circumstance for anyone to navigate, it does not excuse turning children into products to be bought and sold. Through IVF, children can be created to parents’ exact specifications, screened for desirable traits, and then destroyed if they don’t meet the would-be parents’ requirements for the child they’re buying. And meanwhile, little-to-no attention is paid to how this actually affects the children born through IVF, particularly those conceived using donor eggs and sperm, who largely seem to find the practice unethical. In addition, various health problems have been linked to the practice of IVF.

“When you are commissioning and swiping your credit card for a product, even one that you want badly, you are participating in commodification, regardless of whether the intended parents are the biological parents of the surrogate-born children,” Katie Breckenridge of child advocacy group Them Before Us previously told Live Action News. “In this case, the products are human beings.”

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