Lunt N, Smith R, Exworthy M Medical Tourism: Treatments, Markets and Health System Implications: A scoping review.Paris: OECD; 2011

Mulligan A. The right to travel for abortion services: a case study in Irish ‘cross-border reproductive care’. Eur J Health Law. 2015; 22:239-66

Pennings G. Reproductive tourism as moral pluralism in motion. J Med Ethics. 2002; 28:337-41

Pennings G. Legal harmonization and reproductive tourism in Europe. Hum Reprod. 2004; 19:(12)2689-94

Salama M, Isachenko V, Isachenko E Cross border reproductive care (CBRC): a growing global phenomenon with multidimensional implications (a systematic and critical review). J Assist Reprod Genet. 2018; 35:1277-88

Shalev C, Moreno A, Eyal H Ethics and regulation of inter-country medically assisted reproduction: a call for action. Isr J Health Policy Res.. 2016; 5

Thorn P, Wischmann T, Blyth E. Cross-border reproductive services − suggestions for ethically based minimum standards of care in Europe. J Psychosom Obst Gyn.. 2012; 33:(1)1-6

Reproductive tourism

02 December 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 12


Travelling abroad to access procedures such as IVF, genetic diagnosis and sex selection are becoming increasingly common—bringing with them a host of ethical quandaries. George Winter explores

Although travelling abroad for the sake of one's health is centuries old—Lourdes, for instance, or ‘taking the waters’ in spas—the concept of so-called ‘medical tourism’ has increased in popularity in recent years. Lunt et al (2011: 2) define medical tourism as ‘when consumers elect to travel across international borders with the intention of receiving some form of medical treatment … [it] most commonly includes dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and fertility treatment.’

Missing from the list is abortion, as exemplified by many Irish women who travelled across international borders to obtain terminations that were illegal in their home country (Mulligan, 2015) until the referendum in June this year.

Fertility treatment belongs to a category that has been variously described as ‘reproductive tourism’, ‘transnational reproduction’, ‘reprotravel’ and ‘cross-border reproductive care’ (CBRC). The most common fertility treatments associated with CBRC are in vitro fertilisation (IVF); intracytoplasmic sperm injection; sperm, egg or embryo donation; commercial surrogacy; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; sex selection and fertility preservation (Salama et al, 2018). Legal constraints, expense in home countries, privacy issues and cultural familiarity are some of the factors helping to drive the popularity of CBRC (Salama et al, 2018).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month