There is a lot to do when expecting a new baby: schedule doctor’s appointments, prepare the nursery, take birth class, book travel to New York.
According to tourism expert Gürkan Boztepe and media sources, 12,000 Turkish children have been born in the U.S. since 2003. Many parents are simply trying to provide a better life for their children. This Turkish desire has evolved into a quintessentially American concept: a business opportunity.
While the small-scale companies have started investing in the birth market, bigger firms are also entering the market with alternative packages. The Turkish-owned Marmara Hotel group recently announced a birth tourism package that includes accommodation at their Manhattan branch offering, “an exclusive package for new mothers that wish to give birth in the USA”, with the additional bonus of the newborn child gaining US citizenship.
The Marmara Manhattan, which is located in New York’s Upper East Side, said: “What we offer is simply a one-bedroom suite accommodation for $5,100, plus taxes, for a month, with airport transfer, baby cradle and a gift set for the mother.” There are also medical fees of about $30,000. The hotel has so far sold 15 of the packages.
This concept of birth tourism has incited a wave of backlash and scrutiny by those opposed to the exploitation of the 14th amendment to the US constitution, which states that all children born on American soil “are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside”. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the practice is entirely legal as long as the women can pay their medical bills.
However, for a country like Turkey that has a violent and volatile history, with compulsory military conscription, birth tourism may be an efficient option to provide a better life for their children.