Birth tourism – motivations and experiences – a medico-legal point of view

This is a recent project that I have embarked on. The initial discussions started in 2022, between Dr Olayinka Lewis (University of Essex) and Dr Aduragbemi Banke-Thomas (University of Greenwich). Due to my interest in immigration and my past collaboration with Dr Lewis on immigration matters, I got involved as an external collaborator.

I am more keen to undertake a post-study analysis on the educational background of these women.

The drive behind this project is that birth tourism is very popular among Nigerian women. In Canada, a study showed that 24.5% of 102 women over an 18-month period were from Nigeria. In the US, there are approximately 20,000 – 26,000 women labelled as birth tourists with no precise number by country. In the UK, this is known as the “Lagos Shuttle”. At one airport in the UK, the government claimed that during a two-year period, immigration officials stopped over 300 expectant mothers with pregnancies too advanced to be put back on planes to fly back home. However, there has been no systematic attempt to undertake an in-depth analysis of the motivations and experiences of those women.

In the UK, children born to foreign nationals do not automatically obtain citizenship. In 2017, a Nigerian woman, who delivered twins in a UK hospital, was left with a bill of £350,000 for a caesarean section. What then are the motivations behind the women who spend so much money on birth tourism?

There seems to be only one piece of literature review that shows that 80% of respondents classed as birth tourists go to Canada to ensure Canadian citizenship for their newborn babies.

Further project information will be published upon completion of the project.

References:

Brar S, Kale M, Birch C, Mattatall F, Vaze M. Impact of birth tourism on health care systems in Calgary, Alberta. BMC Health Services Research. 2022;22:120.

Camarota SA. A Revised Estimate of Birth Tourism: The earlier estimate was incorrect; the new estimate is 20,000 to 26,000 possible birth tourists a year [Internet]. Blog. 2020 [cited 2022 May 8]. Available from: https://cis.org/Camarota/Revised-Estimate-Birth-Tourism

Medical Tourism Association. Maternity tourism like stealing candy from a baby [Internet]. Article. 2022 [cited 2022 Apr 9]. Available from: https://www.magazine.medicaltourism.com/article/maternity-tourism-like-stealing-candy-baby

Borland S. Nigerian mother racks up £350,000 bill in NHS hospital after flying to Britain to give birth to twins [Internet]. Mail Online. 2022 [cited 2022 May 25]. Available from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4123156/Health-tourist-s-350-000-bill-paid-NHS-crisis-case-mother-flew-Nigeria-birth-two-twins.html

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