Bioethics Blogs

“No Rainbow Families” and the Problem with Race-based Reproduction Policies

Catherine Clune-Taylor suggests that we should target institutional and interpersonal racism rather than restrict individual reproductive choice

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A July 2014 Calgary Herald article revealed that Calgary’s lone fertility clinic, Regional Fertility Program, restricts patients’ use of sperm donors to those of the same race. This “no rainbow families” policy received both national and international coverage. The media attention prompted the clinic to release a statement on its website, claiming that the policy was discarded a year ago (though the clinic had failed to update its website to that effect). Furthermore, the clinic maintained that the views represented in the article were solely those of the physician interviewed, Dr. Cal Greene, who apparently was unaware of the clinic’s change in practice. This is a dubious claim, given Dr. Greene’s position as the clinic’s administrative director and the full transcripts of his interviews with the article’s author, Jessica Barrett.

MulticulturalFamilyThis news highlights the need for improved oversight of, and regulation for, fertility clinics. In addition, news of this clinic’s policy has given rise to complex, sometimes heated discussions among many about race, racism and good parenting.

As someone who is mixed-race, I was surprised to hear support for Dr. Greene’s arguments in social media from non-white and mixed-race persons. They sympathized with Dr. Greene’s arguments that parents and children should have an ethnic or cultural connection (presumably secured via shared race). They specifically cited the many experiences of interpersonal and institutional racism they had experienced growing up as non-white or mixed-race. They reasoned that a same-race parent would be better able to prepare their children for, and support them through, such experiences, and that it was better to not bring a mixed-race child into a racist society if it could be avoided.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.