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.