“IVF Holiday”: Contradictions of Patient Care Abroad

Amy Speier


This paper considers North American patient contradictory experiences in traveling to the Czech Republic for assisted reproduction. Feminist scholars have discussed how reproductive technologies involve contradictions for patients. Although they off er women new opportunities, they also constrain women via medicalization. Most perniciously, these “hope technologies” (Franklin 1997) compel women to keep seeking more treatment. I argue that the global terrain of reproductive travel only exacerbates the contradictions of these “global assemblages” (Ong and Collier 2005) – the movement of reproductive technologies around the world - for patients.
The contradiction of medical holiday more broadly construed involves even further complications as women try to embody positive thinking by taking a holiday. However, it is clear that there are decisive breaks in the vacation couples experience, when the reality of infertility treatment and clinic visits interrupt their European vacation. In addition, the high cost of the trip pressures women to have a successful treatment. They internalize the lay-medical admonitions that they must not be stressed when undergoing treatment, and claim they try to be “zen”, a metaphor for New Age ideology and positive thinking, about the treatment. Inevitably, the experience of infertility treatment abroad is empowering for North Americans whereby patients feel agency as consumers within a neoliberal framework of healthcare, yet also disempowering
when patients embrace an etiology of self-managed patient-care.

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