Archaic Fertility Clinic Proudly Refuses To Mix Races In Treatments

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)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

      This is absolutely disgusting. I really can’t say anything else.

    • Megan

      It’s been a while since I took constitutional law, but I do remember that being a private business still doesn’t allow them to discriminate on grounds of race, beside being all kinds of wrong, it’s a protected class. I know this is in Canada, so maybe the law is different. Either way this is still crap.

      • Lilly

        I think this is a case of no one has bothered to mount a legal challenge (probably because most of the affected people want the reproductive help and then to walk away from the crazy so they don’t want to rock the boat).
        I doubt the clinic would pass a constitutional challenge in Canada (our charter of rights and freedoms is part of the constitution and is pretty explicit about no discrimination based on race/ethnicity/colour/gender/sexuality/marital status etc).

      • http://batman-news.com Greta Young

        I work in civil rights and yes, you’re correct– race/color/ethnicity are all protected classes and it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on those grounds.
        The vast majority of egg donations are done anonymously, and I would imagine for a lot of IPs, having the child “look like mom” is an important factor in donor selection…. yet, “customer preference” will not get an employer out of a discrimination allegaton. However, there’s no employer/employee relationship between the doctor and the egg donors, so the donors would not have any legal recourse for issues that arise. And unless the doctor is only refusing to “mix races” of certain customers, who all happen to be one protected class, over others, he’s not exactly “discriminating” against the customers either, if he applies his racist and ridiculous policy consistently. Ugh. What a slimebag.

        I really think reproductive technology needs better regulation, data collection, industry standards… something — particularly when it comes to egg donation. I looked into becoming an egg donor last year actually, and for as much as I am behind the idea of using technology to help make dreams become reality, the more I was exposed to the process and the way these fertility clinics (or egg “brokers,” rather, as many of them do not even have in-house REs and simply partner with other clinics) operate, the more the “designer babies”/creepy eugenics stuff seemed to bother me.

      • Lilly

        cbc did some stories about the issue a few months ago — it is kind of scary that the outdated laws are causing more harm

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/canadians-pay-egg-donors-on-the-grey-market-1.2587853

      • Megan

        Hey, would you mind emailing me? Meganazander@ gmail.com

    • Ursi

      “a child of an ethnic background should have the ability to be able to identify with their ethnic roots.”

      Why, exactly?

      These are doctors, don’t they know what ethnicity is? Don’t they understand the difference between race and ethnicity, ethnicity and ethno-racial groups?

      This comes off like hiding prejudice in the guise of tolerance-related buzz words. Identify with their ethnic roots? Come on. The child of white parents of Canadian nationality will be raised with the ethnic identifiers of the parents. Which could include the traditions of a multitude of European ethnicities to name the largest sub-group. Protecting cultural identities is not about using a person’s appearance to decide what social group they fit in to.

      That is, in fact, racism.

      • The Actual Devil

        Yes! I mean, do they let women use sperm from French Canadian donors as long as they’re white? Clearly, the issue here is one of OMG dark skin!!!!!1!.

      • Maria Guido

        Exactly. Give me a break.

      • K.

        Oh Ursi. You’re so smart.

    • keelhaulrose

      Typical, wait, Canada?
      WTF, Canada? I thought we were cool! Send this clinic to Mississippi, they’ll fit in there.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        As I like to say: Alberta, the Texas of Canada.
        (sorry to any of my Canuk homies who are from Alberta, you guys are awesome! This clinic isn’t.)

      • Véronique the Attachment Shark

        OMG i was about to say the same thing :)

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Haha, great minds!

    • Spongeworthy

      Holy shit with this doctor’s comments. “Rainbow families”, and talking shit on this woman for being single and saying she isn’t reasonable? This clinic should really stop letting him speak to the press.

      • Maria Guido

        I know. It’s unreal.

      • The Actual Devil

        I mean, “rainbow families”? WTF? Who even says that?

      • Kapibara-san

        I thought “rainbow family” was a term for a family with same sex parents? Or is this just my mother tongue?

    • Kapibara-san

      What.

      This article has so much wtf I don’t even know what to comment.

    • 0katykate0

      As appalling as this Drs. Statement is about “rainbow families” his statement about “some single womens decision” is just as infuriating. I realize it is a privatly owned clinic, and he can give his stockpile of sperm to whom ever he wants, but to compleatly disregard your clients wishes because she’s a single women?? What an Asshat on a multitude of asshattery.

      • LadyClodia the Modest Rat

        And his comment that if she was “reasonable” she would be able to find a donor. He definitely comes off as a self-righteous asshat.

    • LadyClodia the Modest Rat

      I read this the other day, and I agree my first thought was WTF, and then that it does seem like much more of a problem for the clinic not to have any qualms about using the same donors over and over.

      • Nica

        I had the same thought. Using the same donors over and over again is more disturbing to me than anything else…
        Ugh on all fronts.

      • Ursi

        Which is an excellent reason why someone would choose a donor of another race or ethno-racial group. Especially if they themselves have a family history of recessive genetic disorders. Need to widen out that gene pool a bit to protect the offspring.

    • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

      Alberta is kind of the Texas of Canada, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. They have cowboys, beef, oil, and are typically fairly conservative. Of course, still not as conservative as the conservative US states, but it’s the closest we’ve got to a Texas.
      Though, Calgary’s mayor is of East Indian background, which is pretty cool for a fairly conservative city in a fairly conservative province.
      But yeah, ick to those comments!

      • The Actual Devil

        My grandmother lives in Canada, and it seems like the racist old person outrage up there is directed at Indians a lot of the time. Kind of like Mexicans in America?

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        It depends on where you are, really. If you live in an area with a high population of Natives (which is what I assume is what you mean by Indians), then there’s a ton of old people racism towards them. If you live in an area with almost no Natives (like where my hometown is), but a lot of East Indians/”brown people”, then there’s the old people racism towards them. My town, for the most part, is really good, but it’s the older generations being bigoted for the most part.

      • The Devil

        Oops, I meant East Indians.

        My grandmother was also upset about Chinese people a while ago, but that had something to do with Glenn Beck, I think.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Ah, ok. Yeah, old white people and their racism. The bigotry does go both ways a lot of times, too, though.
        I included both Natives and East Indians just in case, because I`m never sure which group you American`s are talking about half the time. ;)

      • The Actual Devil

        Old white people and their Fox news, too, lol.

      • M.

        Yeah, what is up with that!? My grandma is totally obsessed with Fox News and some of the things she thinks about the world just boggle my brain. Luckily, I can’t stand to not argue with her so she rarely brings up the crazy to me.

      • Ddaisy

        I live near the Blood reserve in southern Alberta, and unfortunately yes, the amount of racism against Natives in my area is horrifying.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        I spent four years in Thunder Bay for my undergrad and I saw a lot of racism against them, too. It’s super sad. I saw bigotry coming the other way, too (not that it’s right, but a part of me doesn’t really blame them, especially since conditions on reserves can be awful). And then it’s so drastically different down in Southern Ontario – at least my specific area – where there’s hardly any Natives and hearing people talk about Native issues (like how we can help them, etc) when they’ve never actually spent any time near a reserve and just read about them in textbooks (not that it’s bad to talk about those issues, it’s great, but I found that I got a whole new perspective from actually being placed right up close to the culture than what I was taught in school; the severity of the poverty and lack of education and the corruption on all fronts, etc). The whole situation is just shitty.

      • Véronique the Attachment Shark

        Canada’s a REALLY big place, with lots of different issues in different spots. In Quebec for example, there’s a lot of intolerance between certain anglophone and francophone communities. Francophones are sometimes intolerant towards immigrant communities. Elsewhere in the country, it’s a different reality depending on the cultural makeup. But, compared to lots of countries in the world, it’s been determined that multiculturalism has been a success.

      • Tina

        I grew up in the city in Canada that proportionately has the biggest east Indian population here, where they are the biggest ethnic group by over 50% to the next largest (identifying as simply Canadian). Not defending racism or discrimination, but the general negative attitude (especially of older citizens) stems from various rising issues. For example, legitimately bilingual people (fluent in both English and French) are beat out for public service jobs, like nurses, by those who speak Punjabi (not an official language of Canada). Home inspectors who are also east Indian cut corners and let massive families live in home not large enough according to health and safety codes. Working in retail you’ll find customers trying to haggle you for the price of a shirt at a chain store like American Eagle and it becomes increasingly frustrating when they talk to your manager as if you did something wrong. Last year the only drive-in theatre played exclusively Bollywood movies.

        Racism is never right, but a lot of people feel overwhelmed, especially when they witness their city changing to something unfamiliar and it feels unjustly beyond their control. I hope that gives you a perspective on why you grandmother might have that perspective that seems similar to the one towards Mexicans for you guys down there.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Did you perhaps grow up in Brampton? Because that’s the first city that comes to mind for me.

      • Tina

        Yes I did! I knew it’d be obvious to a fellow Ontarian lol

      • Lilly

        I thought Surrey, BC

      • Wholockkie Head

        That’s what I thought too! Shows where people are from!

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        lol, I grew up in Milton, so not too far away. Yay for the GTA!

      • Tina

        Woo! Considering this is the internet, that’s basically like having been next door neighbours lol. Alberta’s been great so far (obviously aside from this racist clinic crap though, jeez so messed up) but I really do miss the GTA since I moved here.

      • irarelypostonanything

        Alberta is the Texas of Canada, certainly. However, it is more a victim of vote splitting, as is the rest of the country. I’ve lived here most of my life and every election I end up voting for a party that can never hope to win, like the majority of Canadians. Without proportional representation, losers like this get free reign because the government is full of conservative losers. 61% of voters did not want conservatives, yet they have a majority government. As much as Canada rocks, it kind of sucks because of that.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Yeah, I`m in Ontario, and I definitely feel you there on terms of votes. In the last provincial election (earlier this summer), I actually declined to vote because I couldn`t really get behind any of the candidates and if you look at the vote map, the North-Western area of the province, which is most of the land, is all orange for NDP, whereas there`s bits of blue in the red that surround the cities like Toronto and Ottawa, but we`ve got a majority Liberal government here.

      • irarelypostonanything

        Yeah, at this point I think the only hope is a minority government, leading to a coalition, which could lead to proportional representation. Unless Trudeaumania takes over, which seems possible with his party’s pro-legalization stance. It could be a wedge issue that drives young voters to the polls.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Definitely. Though I’m not 100% sure how I feel about Justin Trudeau right now. He shows some promise, but admittedly, I’m suspicious of all politicians. ;)

      • amp

        I live in rural Alberta and it is extremely racist, I don’t think I have even seen a non Caucasian person in my town. However, the big cities (where this clinic would be) are VERY mixed race. Every time I go into a big city I feel like the only Caucasian person around and It doesn’t seem like people are racist, I find it hard to believe a clinic like this wouldn’t be in one of the major city centres, so it surprises me they don’t allow mixed race babies..

      • T

        I’m born and raised Calgarian (where the clinic is located) . It’s not as bad as you are saying. Calgary is actually a fairly big, very very diverse city. And Alberta is where most people immigrate to. We have the oil, we have the jobs. There are definitely a few pockets in AB (small towns) that are pretty ignorant. But Calgary is by far more liberal and open minded than you would expect. This dude is an anomaly.

      • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie Ninja Tits

        Don’t worry, I know my fair share of great Albertans. ;)
        And I know that Calgary is fairly liberal, but Alberta itself tends to have the reputation of being one of the most conservative provinces.

      • Lilly

        Texas has the same kind of issue — people I have met from Dallas tend to be liberal/open-minded but they get drowned out by the rest of the place.

    • The Actual Devil

      Dude, you have a job because of women, especially single women, making decisions. So sit down and STFU.

    • Mystik Spiral

      “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”

      So… my white brother and sister-in-law who adopted one black child and two black/Hispanic children don’t have healthy, well-adjusted children because the kids don’t look at all like mom and dad? Fuck you very much.

    • Lisa Walker

      Being from Canada this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Albertans hate everybody that aren’t like them, and they seem to pride themselves on lording over people. I drove through Alberta last summer and was in a gas station and mentioned I was from British Columbia and I was told to ‘go back to the commune you pot smoking hippie’…really?

      • The Actual Devil

        Wow, that’s so rude! I tend to think of British Columbia & Western Washington being more artistic hippies than stoned hippies- that’s more California, haha.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        Nah, we’re pretty stoned, too…

      • Wholockkie Head

        Can confirm…British Columbians are stoners.

        Just kidding, sort of. Lots of stoners in BC…LOTS of them.

      • guets

        I don’t know how I feel about hearing that parts of Canada are apparently just like the US. I had this whole “Canada is a magical land of reasonable people” thing going…

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

        Just ignore Alberta.

      • Shea

        And the Parti Québécois.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        Basically, if Canada was the US, Alberta would be Texas. Easily the most conservative province around.

      • Ddaisy

        On behalf of the ignorant morons in my province, I apologize! If you ever wanted to come back and try again, I would welcome you and show you some way nicer, cooler Albertans! :)

      • Lisa Walker

        Haha as a matter of fact in driving through AB very soon but it’s to get the hell out of Saskatchewan and back to BC. Lived in SK for a year and I will NEVER complain about the 3 days of snow on Vancouver Island a year again!

    • https://twitter.com/perfctlyflawd1 JenH1986

      Did he really say “rainbow babies” tell me, he didn’t really say “rainbow babies”. Please?

      • Erin Murphy

        Rainbow baby reeks of condescending inclusion much like the move for handicapable being used for people with disabilities.

      • https://twitter.com/perfctlyflawd1 JenH1986

        It seriously made me want to bang my head. I haven’t been that irked over a stupid name like that since I took my bi-racial cousin out and someone called her and “Oreo”.

      • K.

        ((eyeroll))

        Does this guy realize how profoundly…archaic (and stupid) he sounds? “Rainbow babies”?? That’s like when my great uncle referred to certain individuals as “Japs,” “Nips,” and “Sambos.” When we were kids, that was definitely “dumb old guy” talk.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Pfffft I can BS on a wide variety of donors being available. When we were picking our sperm, we were given a list of 3 clinics. One was Canadian and was a really short list (you can’t pay for bodily fluids in Canada), the other 2 were American. Once you filter out the non-Canadian compliant donors (there are different screening processes, so only a portion of American donations are Canadian-compliant), it’s a pretty short list.

      For us, we wanted a donor with open-identity – which means that any offspring can receive his last known contact information (if they want to) from the clinic when they turn 18. Many single moms (and others) think this is important as well.

      Adding that filter brought our list down to something like 15. That’s pretty slim pickings when you’re choosing something that will contribute half of your child’s genetic material. And I can’t recall exactly, but I think only half of those dudes were white.

      • https://twitter.com/perfctlyflawd1 JenH1986

        You can’t pay for bodily fluids in Canada…no idea why, but this made me giggle.

      • Lilly

        It is funny but it actually is an issue since people are not paid for blood donations, sperm, eggs etc we have lower amounts of these things available for people who need them to use.

      • http://facebook.com/guineverew Guinevere

        Yeah. We were trying to supplement our income with plasma “donations” here. That is to say, selling your plasma for $50. They didn’t like us, though, on account of tattoos, etc.

      • https://twitter.com/perfctlyflawd1 JenH1986

        Tattoos man…

      • http://facebook.com/guineverew Guinevere

        they aren’t even remotely recent. But, one covers one of his veiny places. IDK. I can’t imagine living in a culture where you weren’t reimbursed for fluids….

    • Jessy

      Ugh. I’m from Calgary, the city where this clinic is located, and was so beyond grossed out when this story broke in our local paper. The policy is bad, the doctor is an ass, and I sincerely apologize for the bad reputation of my province. There is certainly no shortage of people here who would like it to remain thoroughly conservative and backwards.

      Thankfully, the Calgary Herald updated their story this morning to say that the policy was changed a year ago, but the clinic never removed it from their website. Though of course, that is not consistent with the statements the doctor made recently. Either way, what an ass.

    • Jem

      This is Eugenics, straight up.

    • http://facebook.com/guineverew Guinevere

      Alberta is gorgeous, though. Those Canadians take care of their side of the Rockies. Just had to say something positive. Gonna hug my “rainbow baby’ hard tonight!

    • K.

      Notwithstanding the bazillion of logical loopholes this guy is ignoring in his stupidity (it’s a single woman. What happens if she has the white baby, but ends up marrying a black guy down the road?) It’s really weird to me that the owner appears to be saying, “Look, you single slut—if you want to go out and ball a bunch of black dudes, then that’s your ‘perogative.’ Our prerogative, however, is to make sure you get artificially inseminated with sperm cells from a dude you’ve never met and selected out of a binder of dossiers—you know, the way God intended.”**

      **I in no way look down upon people who seek the fertility treatments, including sperm donors, and I’m not arguing it’s “unnatural”; I’m trying to point out that there’s a weird irony of this reproductive conservatism coming from some dude who owns a sperm bank.

    • Awa Adams

      Right, because children can’t identify with or have pride in more than one background without their heads exploding from all the culture. That must be why I don’t remember much of the nineties- too much awesome.

    • RayneofCastamere

      What. What.

      Is he living in some alternate Jim Crow Canada where Jefferson Davis moved up there after the Civil War and made a hostile takeover? The fuck?!

      Dammit, I didn’t think I’d need the Riddler Judges You gif again so soon, but I’m bringin’ him out! Judgy Riddler’s going to be making a lot more appearances in the days to come, isn’t he? *sigh*

      http://38.media.tumblr.com/743efc1e3132a1d803bd8d5236aad0fa/tumblr_n9cs3yRkao1r5uz1po1_500.gif

    • CrazyFor Kate

      First of all, Alberta strikes again. Second, really??? Just really? Who the hell cares what kind of sperm you want to connect with your egg? What kind of difference does it make? I’m honestly feeling really outraged at this.

      • Daleth

        I am too. It’s just so completely not their business.

    • Shannon

      Yeah….for a conservative place like Alberta, I am not AT ALL surprised by this. One of the reasons we chose not to stay in AB (depsite the booming job-market) was the close-mindedness of the province. After 3 years there, we just couldn’t deal with it anymore.

    • Obladi Oblada

      Are we absolutely sure that this clinic isn’t located in the United States in the south or is being run by someone born and raised under the rebel flag because this sounds EXACTLY like some shit I’d hear down here.

      • Ddaisy

        You’d be amazed how many Albertans have Confederate flag stuff. It was such a “wtf” experience for me when I first noticed. It’s not even part of our own history so they can’t use that as an excuse. It is just a blatant declaration of “Hi, I’m a racist!”

    • mblackm2

      Me thinks she needs to find a different clinic who will give her value for her dollar.
      And why can’t a child of mixed race identify with their ethnic roots? 4 of my 6 grands are mixed race and I’m sure they’ll have no problem identifying w/ the Asian/Native American parts as well as the white european parts. It gives them some rich and interesting background to reflect on and learn about.

    • hurricanewarningdc

      Wow. Insane.