Saturday, May 06, 2006

Why I dislike the term reproductive tourism

We are now seeing an increasing number of infertile couples coming to our clinic from all over the world for IVF treatment. They come for many reasons, depending upon where they live.
1. We offer high quality treatment at a fraction of the cost a clinic in the US would charge
2. They are fed up of the long waiting lists in the UK
3. They dsilike the impersonal assembly line care they receive
4. IVF is not available in their own country
5. They need to use donor gametes, but their own country's rules do not allow them to do so.
6. They have failed a number of IVF cycles in their own country, because of bureaucratic rules which permit the transfer of only a limited number of embryos.

These patients are often called "medical tourists"; and the phenomenon where infertile couples travel overseas for IVF treatment is called reproductive tourism .
However, as Dr Pellicer points out, this term is inappropriate because nobody travels abroad to obtain medical treatment with the same intention and mood with which they leave home for vacations. It is also a term that trivializes infertility problems
for both sides, patients and doctors. Matorras (2005) proposes the term " reproductive exile." This is a much better word, because it emphasises the fact that the only reason infertile couples are travelling aborad is because they are being forced to - either because IVF treatment is not available in their own country; or is too expensive; or takes for ever to be delivered.

Unfortunately, because infertile couples are in the minority, it's unlikely that things will improve for a long time to come. This is such a shame ! Why should patients have to travel long distances to receive medical care which they are entitled to in their own country ?

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