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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

'Fertility tourism' clinics urged to partner across borders

20 December 2010

By MacKenna Roberts

Appeared in BioNews 589

European fertility clinics are being encouraged to collaborate and ensure fertility patients receive safe and fair access to treatment abroad, according to guidelines approved this month by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

The ESHRE code of practice generally supports cross border care as a means to provide people with fertility problems more options for treatment. But it says clinicians must share information to maintain recommended safety and ethical standards.

Among the recommendations, the guidance emphasises transparency and open communication between foreign and home clinicians in order to ensure complete medical record information is made available for long-term follow up of treatment. Collaboration may also save expense through avoiding unnecessary or repetitive tests.

The code of practice also addresses the issue of multiple births, which carries health risks to mother and child. It recognises how some people who travel abroad for treatment may be reluctant to accept single embryo transfer for fear of incurring additional expenses of further treatment and travel.

In an effort to reduce multiple births, the guidelines recommend single embryo transfer for surrogacy arrangements but stopped short of extending the principle to non-surrogate fertility treatments. It felt women may choose to assume the risk of transferring up to two embryos pregnancies themselves but that the risks were not acceptable for surrogates.

The guidance also encourages fertility clinics to adopt policies to prioritise home needs over foreign demand for certain reproductive services that face scarce resources, such as those requiring donated eggs. The code of practice recommends home clinics should meet resident fertility patient needs first before turning to international care.

The varying reproductive laws and clinical standards among European countries raise particular concerns for patients seeking fertility treatment abroad. The Progress Educational Trust dedicated its 2010 annual conference in November to cross border fertility care at which was discussed ESHRE findings, recommendations and future investigations.

ESHRE will publish the guidelines on its website this week or early in the New Year.


| 20 December 2010


04 July 2011 - by Rose Palmer 
The shortage of egg and sperm donors, and the cost of IVF in the UK, need to be addressed to reduce the number of people travelling abroad for fertility treatment, according to a report published this week.... [Read More]
04 July 2011 - by Professor Anne Kerr 
Zippi Brand Frank's documentary 'Google Baby' gives us a fascinating insight into the global business of making babies. The programme follows an Israeli business man as he recruits commissioning parents via the internet, US brokers and egg donors, Indian assisted conception clinics and gestational surrogates .... [Read More]
03 May 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
A BBC Radio Scotland investigation examining examples of 'fertility tourism' has highlighted the emotional, physical and financial concerns faced by couples travelling abroad to seek fertility treatment... [Read More]
10 January 2011 - by Louisa Ghevaert 
International surrogacy has become big news. Last month, a landmark international commercial surrogacy case, Re L, attracted front page national headlines. Hard on its heels the media spotlight fell on the birth of Elton John and David Furnish's US surrogate born son, Zachary, on Christmas Day. This has fuelled the debate about surrogacy and the question is why has it generated such attention?... [Read More]

29 November 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Are European airlines bursting with 'fertility tourists' risking their health by travelling abroad? Do most people seeking fertility treatment overseas fit the media stereotype - white, middle-class career women over 50? Does cross-border reproductive care (CBRC) include eggs imported from abroad? Dr Françoise Shenfield and Professor Lorraine Culley tried to answer these questions during the first session of last Wednesday's Progress Educational Trust (PET) annual conference... [Read More]
15 November 2010 - by Zeynep Gürtin-Broadbent 
The Progress Educational Trust's conference next week will tackle the subject of Cross-border Reproductive Care (CBRC), with a range of UK experts coming together to present the evidence and argue over the ethical conundrums. Although the contested term 'reproductive tourism' has firmly entered public vernacular through the popular media, as yet little is known about this rapidly growing phenomenon... [Read More]
01 November 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) has published an updated set of best practice guidelines for fertility clinics on the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) techniques... [Read More]
18 October 2010 - by Dr Francoise Shenfield 
Cross-border reproductive care is becoming more widespread, but is fraught with safety concerns. We at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) have no objection to patients seeking reproductive treatments outside their home country. But to protect patient safety, we believe there should be a Code of Practice (COP) to protect patients, donors and potential surrogates... [Read More]

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