Fertility Holidays

IVF Tourism and the Reproduction of Whiteness

192 pages

5 halftones

August, 2016

ISBN: 9781479849109

$28

Paper

Add to Cart Available: 7/8/2016

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Author

Amy Speier is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Arlington.

All books by Amy Speier

Each year, more and more Americans travel out of the country seeking low cost medical treatments abroad, including fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). As the lower middle classes of the United States have been priced out of an expensive privatized “baby business,” the Czech Republic has emerged as a central hub of fertility tourism, offering a plentitude of blonde-haired, blue-eyed egg donors at a fraction of the price.
 
Fertility Holidays presents a critical analysis of white, working class North Americans’ motivations and experiences when traveling to Central Europe for donor egg IVF. Within this diaspora, patients become consumers, urged on by the representation of a white Europe and an empathetic health care system, which seems nonexistent at home. As the volume traces these American fertility journeys halfway around the world, it uncovers layers of contradiction embedded in global reproductive medicine. Speier reveals the extent to which reproductive travel heightens the hope ingrained in reproductive technologies, especially when the procedures are framed as “holidays.” The pitch of combining a vacation with their treatment promises couples a stress-free IVF cycle; yet, in truth, they may become tangled in fraught situations as they endure an emotionally wrought cycle of IVF in a strange place.
 
Offering an intimate, first-hand account of North Americans’ journeys to the Czech Republic for IVF, Fertility Holidays exposes reproductive travel as a form of consumption which is motivated by complex layers of desire for white babies, a European vacation, better health care, and technological success.
 

Reviews

  • "One of the first ethnographies on reproductive tourism, this book offers a captivating read into what these multi-faceted transnational experiences are like for the women, and men, involved as patients, clients, consumers, vacationers, and sometimes, parents. Through her nimble fieldwork, Amy Speier allows readers to see what it means in practice to seek out IVF as a patient-tourist in a global neoliberal marketplace of reproductive technologies and affective labor. . . . An intimate glimpse into the 21st century “systems of hope” on which many infertile heterosexual couples now depend to become parents, Fertility Holidays is timely and fascinating; a must read!"

    —Susan Frohlick, University of British Columbia

  • "Fertility Holidays focuses on a group of North Americans traveling to the Czech Republic in search of respectful medical care at market-driven low prices, combined with a European vacation. In Speier’s adroit analysis, their layers of techno-hope cannot be separated from a desire to stabilize their chances of giving birth to 'white' babies. This compelling ethnographic account of Eastern European fertility entrepreneurship provides feminist insight into the marketization of reproductive bodies, showing how multilayered and multi-sited medical travel has become."

    —Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: the Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America