Quests for Conception: Fertility Tourists, Globalization and Feminist Legal Theory

36 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2006

See all articles by Richard F. Storrow

Richard F. Storrow

City University of New York School of Law


Fertility tourism is a phenomenon that has received a great deal of media attention recently as the cost of in vitro fertilization in the West skyrockets and countries enact laws that drastically curtail women's access to assisted reproduction. Professor Storrow examines the relationship between restrictive reproductive laws that purport to be expressions of local values and norms and globalization, the process of increasing worldwide interconnectedness that encourages fertility tourism. After a discussion of the meaning and causes of fertility tourism, Storrow demonstrates how fertility tourism acts to dampen organized resistance to restrictive reproductive laws and thus how globalization itself sustains the dismantling women's rights on the local level. Storrow then examines the dynamics of fertility tourism at the site of treatment delivery. Noting how Western Europeans' fertility travel to former Communist-bloc countries has spawned a burgeoning infertility industry promising cut-rate in vitro fertilization, high success rates, liberal reproductive policies, and little administrative oversight, Storrow reveals that, in response, egg donation in countries like Romania has surged and infertile citizens of those countries are priced out of the market for infertility treatment in the wake of the higher prices generated by increasing international fertility tourism. According to this analysis, fertility tourism acts to transform public oppression in one country into private oppression in another. Finally, Storrow executes a comparison of fertility tourism with both sex tourism and international adoption to make the point that the global capital generated by new markets for fertility tourism will likely thwart any concerted international response to the inequities and exploitation that arise in this context. Storrow concludes that countries considering bans or restrictions on certain forms of assisted reproduction have an ethical obligation to consider and address the effects that those laws will have on infertile couples and gamete donors in countries that have become the destinations of fertility tourists.

Keywords: assisted reproduction, egg donation, fertility tourism, globalization, feminist legal theory, regulation of reproduction

Suggested Citation

Storrow, Richard F., Quests for Conception: Fertility Tourists, Globalization and Feminist Legal Theory. Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 57, p. 295, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Richard F. Storrow (Contact Author)

City University of New York School of Law ( email )

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