fertility-clinicA 38-year-old woman in Alberta, Canada who sought in vitro fertilization at a fertility clinic last spring was told she could only use sperm from donors who were white, like her. The clinic has had this “rule” in place since the eighties, and seems to proudly stand behind it. Wow.

The single woman had the usual routine conversations with a doctor at the clinic before her treatment was to begin. Dr. Calvin Greene, the administrative director at the Regional Fertility Program, told her the facility will not treat couples interested in using donors with a different ethnicity. The woman, who would only give the name “Catherine” says she was ”absolutely floored.” Greene told the Calgary Herald, “I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants, That’s her prerogative, but that’s not her prerogative in our clinic.” He also went on to explain that the policy was created with the belief that “a child of an ethnic background should have the ability to be able to identify with their ethnic roots.”The facility’s official statement is this:

Given that the health and well-being of children born through the application of assisted human reproductive technologies must be given priority in all decisions … it is the practice of the Regional Fertility Program not to permit the use of a sperm donor that would result in a future child appearing racially different than the recipient or the recipient’s partner.

The woman complains that this policy severely limited her list of potential donors and says that it narrowed it to about 20 or so Caucasian candidates – many of whom had been used by several other patients in Calgary:

“Frankly, it’s appalling how many people have the same donors, probably because of this policy,” she said. “A friend of mine just went through this process and used the donor that I would have picked.”

Maybe the clinic should be less concerned with avoiding what they call “rainbow families,”and more concerned with the fact that they are pumping out a bunch of relatives. That’s a little weird, isn’t it? The doctor insists there are plenty of quality Caucasian donors:  “She needs to look harder, because I can tell you reasonable people can easily find a suitable donor.”

While the clinic is private and can make their own rules, that doesn’t stop me from pointing out that this is gross. When a clinic can decide the potential racial makeup of future offspring they help produce, solely based on their own ideas of race-mixing – that is troublesome. What decade is this? Families are made up of different ethnicities all the time. Assuming a child won’t have access to knowledge about their ethnicity, simply because half of it isn’t shared by his or her parents is just wrong.

Welcome to 2014. It’s nice here. I can’t believe outdated, totally ignorant ideas about “rainbow families” are being proudly espoused by a fertility clinic. The policy is archaic at best, bordering on eugenics at worst. By limiting a family’s access to donors simply because of race, the clinic is basically creating “designer babies.” That is not okay – and it’s not up to a doctor to dictate what anyone’s family should look like.

(photo: RTimages/ Shutterstock)