Mixed-race babies are ‘designer babies’?

Engineered for cuteness
Engineered for cuteness
Apparently the only fertility clinic in Calgary, Canada, a city of 1 million, won’t countenance the conception of mixed-race children. Here are the details:

Calgary’s only fertility centre, which has made headlines for requiring that patients receive only sperm from donors of the same ethnicity, is a medically respected clinic but one with conservative views.

The private clinic, known as the Regional Fertility Program, got wide attention last week after a Caucasian female patient complained that she had been told she could only get sperm from white donors.

She said that unlike other clinics, the Calgary clinic will not take patients who deal with surrogacy agencies. The clinic also long resisted taking gay patients, she added.

“I deal with a lot of fertility clinics. They are certainly the most conservative. That is their choice to a certain extent as long as it is a private service.”

Officials at the clinic didn’t reply to an interview request Monday, but administrative director Calvin Greene told the Calgary Herald that it is better to raise children who ressemble their parents.

“A child of an ethnic background should have the ability to be able to identify with their ethnic roots,” Dr. Greene said.

The patient who went public with her complaint about the clinic’s policy is a single woman who is considering in-vitro fertilization.

“I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants,” Dr. Greene said about her.

Dr. Greene said that his stance is consistent with the spirit of Ottawa’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which discourages doctors from helping create “designer babies.”

First, I have to admit that this isn’t that strange when you hear people always talk about ‘multi-cultural’ families when they really mean multi-racial. I’m in a multi-racial family personally, not a multi-cultural one. This is a slip of the tongue in our colloquial speech that has always made me uncomfortable. People aren’t born with their culture, they’re inculcated with it. It’s the majority sentiment for people to be more comfortable with people who look like themselves, but there’s no reason to make this a metaphysical or ontological issue, unless you are a racialist of some sort.

Second, this is a private clinic, so depending on how funds are allocated (Canada having literally socialized medicine) that’s their prerogative. But reading between the lines though it seems that assisted reproduction in Canada is not as widely distributed in availability as in the United States. As is clear from the above passage it isn’t simply people who don’t share this clinic’s views on race (or race-mixing) who might have problems. There have been many criticisms of the relatively lax oversight of assisted reproduction in the United States, but this shows the other side. By making it common and widely available people whose preferences don’t align with the attitudes of a given clinic have a wide array of choices. Rather than getting offended and being angry temporarily we need to be on guard against those who would interfere in one of the most private and important decisions a person might ever make.

Update: The policy isn’t on their website anymore. Show some courage! All across the internet people are Offended and asserting that this is NOT OK. The major issue I have with this is that most people prefer people of their own race in the mating game, and, most people select sperm donors who do reflect their own racial background. This isn’t just the retrograde, but the majority sentiment. The issue is that people don’t think that this should be imposed as a norm anymore. Obviously when you become a licensed professional you have particular obligations. But rather than enforcing the most up-to-date understanding of social policies to the most picayune details I believe that the best way to go is making these sorts of services widely available from an array of providers. That way there’s a minimum of imposition.

Update: The clinic claims it discontinued the policy a year ago. The website had not been updated, and the doctor who gave the quote about “Rainbow Families” was speaking in his personal capacity.

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