Something is wrong with SIWOTI! »« I must be a gamma, too

What’s wrong with rainbow families?

A woman went to a fertility clinic for artificial insemination, and discovered a surprising stipulation. She’s white, so they’ll only allow her access to sperm from white men.

Dr. Calvin Greene, the clinic’s administrative director, confirmed the private facility will not treat couples or singles who insist on using donors of a different ethnicity. The policy has been in place since the clinic opened in the 1980s.

“I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants,” he said. “That’s her prerogative, but that’s not her prerogative in our clinic.”

A statement on the clinic’s website reads: “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.”

“Rainbow families”? Does Canada have miscegenation laws, because this is the same thing.

Maybe there was a typo in the doctor’s statement. Perhaps these rules were formulated in the 1880s.

Comments

  1. raven says

    I’d be out of that place so fast, the Flash couldn’t keep up.

    Guy is clearly a racist and a wacko. I wouldn’t trust any of the work they did or their sperm donors.

  2. numerobis says

    Alberta : Canada :: Texas : US

    Hope that helps.

    But for reproductive things, we’re very conflicted. Abortion is legal but there are no providers in PEI and few in NB. Quebec hospitals are so reluctant at providing it that private clinics won full reimbursment from Medicare, on the legal theory that health care is guaranteed but the government was illegally making access impossible.

  3. says

    I’m astonished as well; though I support the clinic’s right to discriminate in such a fashion, I can’t see what sort of reasoning must have gone into making such rules some 30 years ago.

  4. JohnnieCanuck says

    I read recently that Vancouver, BC has the highest miscegenation rate amongst young couples of any city in North America. Well, they didn’t actually use the M-word in the article. There are many ethnic groups represented throughout the metro area and it is wonderful to see how so many people care little about limiting themselves to their own ethnicity.

  5. Koshka says

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

    The policy apparently applies to both singles and couples seeking treatment. The fact that he specifically mentioned “some single woman” suggests to me he is not particularly in favour of giving treatment to single woman.

  6. raven says

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

    What if that single woman is a mix?

    What if the couple is ethnically mixed?

    What if the male is ethnically mixed?

    FWIW, one of the fastest growing groups in the USA is…mixed race people. Chances are in a few centuries, most of us will be mixed.

  7. A. Noyd says

    On the one hand, there are a disturbing number of people who fetishizes mixed race children. On the other hand, paternalistically limiting women’s reproductive choices is not the way to go about combating that. Nor is that likely to be Dr. Greene’s motivation.

  8. qwints says

    I can sympathize with some of the arguments against cross-cultural adoption, but this makes absolutely no sense to me.

  9. raven says

    Census: More people identify as mixed race – In America …
    inamerica.blogs. cnn.com/…/census-more-people-identify-as-mixed-race/

    by Moni Basu – Sep 27, 2012 – People who reported a background of mixed race grew by 32% to 9 million … In all, the U.S. population increased by 9.7% since 2000. …..

    There you go.

    In ten years, the US population increased by 9.7% while mixed race grew by 32%.

    I have no idea what it is in Canada or Alberta, but it probably isn’t much different.

  10. chrislawson says

    EH@4:

    Can’t agree with you there. Arguing for the clinic’s right to refuse donor sperm along racial grounds is no different IMHO to saying it’s OK for a private restaurant to refuse service to people of mixed race.

  11. raven says

    Number of mixed-race couples on the rise in Canada …
    www. canada. com/Number+mixed+race+couples…Canada…/story.html

    Apr 23, 2010 – More than 340000 children in Canada are growing up in mixed-race families, a new … and the number of mixed unions is growing much more quickly than that of … While couples comprised of people from two different visible …

    It’s the same in Canada. Read it yourself.

    Looks like Dr. Racist-Alberta is spending a lot of sleepless nights. While he is producing pure babies by the handful, the fertile masses aren’t following his plan!!!

  12. says

    chrislawson:

    Can’t agree with you there. Arguing for the clinic’s right to refuse donor sperm along racial grounds is no different IMHO to saying it’s OK for a private restaurant to refuse service to people of mixed race.

    Thank you.
    I prefer companies to have anti-discrimination policies. It’s of greater benefit to the public.

  13. J Silent says

    Fortunately, it looks like this issue may largely resolved or at least mitigated. The clinic says they changed the policy (still far too recently) and it is only one of the doctors in question still citing it.

    The quick and severe level of condemnation from many quarters including the federal Minister for Health is also reassuring. Shouldn’t be needed at this point, but little victories I guess.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/calgary-fertility-clinic-in-spotlight-over-policy-to-restrict-donations-to-patients-of-same-ethnicity/article19813167/

  14. Alverant says

    Thanks, raven, you made me think of an episode of Law & Order were a fertility doctor was using his own sperm instead of donors and lying to his patients about it to save on testing fees (and to stroke his own ego). Makes me wonder if this guy is doing the same thing which is really why he doesn’t want to allow his patient/customers to pick from all possible options.

  15. says

    qwints

    I can sympathize with some of the arguments against cross-cultural adoption,

    I can’t, because they’re asinine nonsense designed to play on racial fears and stereotypes.

  16. raven says

    Alverant:

    Thanks, raven, you made me think of an episode of Law & Order were a fertility doctor was using his own sperm instead of donors and lying to his patients about it to save on testing fees (and to stroke his own ego).

    That might have been in a TV show. But it also happened in real life and in Canada no less.

    Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin Suspended For Inseminating …
    www .huffingtonpost .ca/…/bernard-norman-barwin-suspended-wrong-sp…

    Jan 31, 2013 – The fertility specialist reached a plea agreement with the medical college in … She raised her child for three years before learning the sperm used in the … Barwin was invested in the Order of Canada for his “profound impact on ….. did several years back….and inseminated the women with his OWN semen?

  17. raven says

    Connecticut Fertility Doctor Inseminates Patient With His …
    www. eggdonor. com/…/connecticut-fertility-doctor-inseminates-patient-w…

    Nov 13, 2009 – Taking the God Complex to an entirely new level, Dr. Ben Ramaley was sued for allegedly using his own sperm instead of his patient’s …

    British man ‘fathered 600 children’ at own fertility clinic …
    www. telegraph. co.uk › News

    Apr 8, 2012 – … children by repeatedly using his own sperm in a fertility clinic he ran, … clinic, Barry Stevens a film-maker from Canada and David Gollancz, …

    Norman Barwin admits using wrong sperm in 3 artificial …
    news. nationalpost. com/…/respected-fertility-doctor-and-order-of-canada-…

    by Tom Blackwell – Feb 1, 2013 – ‘Worst nightmare': Respected fertility doctor impregnated three women with the … Five years earlier, he had been made a member of the Order of Canada for work the … The reason for his fear of semen mix-ups, however, became crystal ….

    Cecil Jacobson – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Cecil_Jacobson

    Cecil Byran Jacobson (born October 2, 1936) is an American former fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate his patients, without informing them

    Seems to be quite common for fertility clinic docs to use their own sperm.

    The above happened in the USA, UK, and Canada. The record is 600 children fathered by one guy in the UK.

    These are what we know of. Probably some never got caught. This has always been an area where dodgy people operate.

    I’d avoid that Alberta clinic like the plague. Caveat Emptor.

  18. carlie says

    I can’t, because they’re asinine nonsense designed to play on racial fears and stereotypes.

    You don’t think there are any possible problems with plucking a child out of one culture and plopping them down into another? Do you think it’s entirely equivalent whether a child is kept in their own country of origin in the place they are used to or snatched up by a foreign couple who can’t even speak their language and take them to an entirely different world?

  19. says

    On the one hand, there are a disturbing number of people who fetishizes mixed race children….

    uhoh. Better start controlling who women can have sex with.
    I’ve heard that even more pregnancies result from that than from artificial insemination (though I’m no expert).

  20. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

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

    Can’t have those women be all, y’know, **autonomous** and shit, can we? Of *course* women can’t make reproductive decisions all on their own. What kind of world would that be?

    Hmm. What does that remind me of???

  21. A. Noyd says

    Jafafa Hots (#20)

    uhoh. Better start controlling who women can have sex with.

    Do you really think I’d agree with that considering what I wrote in my very next sentence? Which, if you need a refresher, was this: On the other hand, paternalistically limiting women’s reproductive choices is not the way to go about combating that.

    (Also, oops to my grammar error in #8.)

  22. fakeemailaddress says

    @:numerobis: Calgary may have the reputation of Canada’s redneck central, but it’s also the first major city in north america to elect a muslim mayor. After being reelected against opponents funded by wealthy business interests, he’s currently one of the most popular politicians in the country. Go figure.

  23. lochaber says

    Crip Dyke @ 19

    The last line in that article is the best. Pretty succinct, concise, and accurate. :)

    Anyways, to all those questioning the women’s motives, if she was honestly denied because the clinic/doctors felt her motivations were questionable, they would have said something better than:

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

    Hell, even if it was just straight up racism, the doctor would have said something else if they weren’t a blithering idiot.

  24. says

    @10 Raven;

    I had to look into the census stats for Canada recently. A fairly large chunk of us consider ourselves as of mixed heritage. Can’t remember what the percentage was.

    However, the majority claim that their ethnicity is simply “Canadian”.

  25. robro says

    carlie — This isn’t about “plucking a child out of one culture and plopping them down into another.” It’s about a Canadian woman getting pregnant using artificial insemination in Canada and when the baby is born in Canada, it will live in Canadian culture.

    A. Noyd — There are a disturbing number of people who fetishize single-race children as well, particularly of the lily white variety. Perhaps we should all just stop having the little nippers.

  26. says

    carlie:

    You don’t think there are any possible problems with plucking a child out of one culture and plopping them down into another? Do you think it’s entirely equivalent whether a child is kept in their own country of origin in the place they are used to or snatched up by a foreign couple who can’t even speak their language and take them to an entirely different world?

    If we were talking about a child that was already born and had experiences in one particular culture, only to be plucked from that culture and plopped into another, you’d have a point.
    But we aren’t.
    We’re not even talking about a fetus.

  27. says

    Gee, carlie, maybe because infants don’t have “culture”*, maybe because it’s immoral and unethical to allow a child to rot away in an unfit home just because “culture”, and maybe, just maybe, because “culture” is a fucking social construct that is completely fucking irrelevant to whether or not you can provide a loving, stable home to a child.

    The only time “culture” should come into adoption proceedings is when the culture of the prospective parents promotes and encourages dangerous and harmful practices *cough*HanaWilliams*cough*

    *Unless it’s bacterial…

  28. says

    And on that note, I’m done with the derail. I just get really pissed off when people suggest that “culture” is somehow more important than a loving, stable home environment.

  29. says

    carlie:
    I’m sorry.
    Please disregard my last comment. I missed the part about cross cultural adoption.

    ****

    robro:
    I made the same mistake. Carlie was responding to WMDKitty who in turn was responding to qwints who was specifically talking about cross cultural adoption (not that this is the subject of the OP).

  30. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Enopoletus Harding, voluntarily repugnant darling of self-serving libertarianism (by way of the Office of Redundancy Department’s office):

    though I support the clinic’s right to discriminate in such a fashion, I can’t see what sort of reasoning must have gone into making such rules some 30 years ago.

    If you can not see the potential for harm in allowing the desire to ‘freely associate’ without recourse on behalf of a minority, then I want you nowhere near a voting booth; never mind whether that free association were reasonably justified per your opinion.

  31. robro says

    Ah, thanks for the clarification, Tony. Sorry, Carlie. I should have read more carefully. I’m still learning. I’ll hush up, have a beer, play some music.

  32. says

    A. Noyd, I have no idea what you would agree with, and never gave a moment’s thought to that or you or anyone specifically when I typed what I typed.

  33. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    You don’t think there are any possible problems with plucking a child out of one culture and plopping them down into another? Do you think it’s entirely equivalent whether a child is kept in their own country of origin in the place they are used to or snatched up by a foreign couple who can’t even speak their language and take them to an entirely different world?

    There’s some sense in this argument, but there are also arguments made that people shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children from the same culture who happen to be a different race or color (I’ve seen claims that this is official policy in at least some parts of the US, in fact).

  34. vaiyt says

    Chances are in a few centuries, most of us will be mixed.

    We might as well already be. The notion of isolated, pure “race” is a construct maintained by erasure and ignorance, and relatively recent. Who knows if you have a black Dane or a half-Chinese Viking among your distant Scandinavian ancestors (both perfectly plausible)?

  35. raven says

    On the one hand, there are a disturbing number of people who fetishizes mixed race children.

    Oh really? I’ve never heard that before. What does this even mean?

    When I see someone who is mixed, all is see is a child or adult who is…mixed. In a cosmopolitan west coast state with a nonwhite majority, they are everywhere.

    And oddly enough, Obama, the president of the USA is a half white mix.

  36. A. Noyd says

    robro (#26)

    There are a disturbing number of people who fetishize single-race children as well, particularly of the lily white variety. Perhaps we should all just stop having the little nippers.

    Single-race children of color are sometimes fetishized, though not usually by their parents, unless they’re made to play a part in someone’s transethnic adoption, white savior drama. (And I’ve seen lots of white people talking about how much they want to steal a Korean baby—not seriously, but there are adoption agencies that enable something similar.)

    It’s a different dynamic for the white children, though. Because of white supremacy, they’re not treated as some sort of exotic deviance from the norm. They’re idolized rather than fetishized, and that’s more of an extension of regular, plain old white supremacy.

    But, really, why do you think it’s appropriate to suggest I’m all for preventing people from having kids, as if didn’t explicitly say limiting reproductive choices is not the solution? But we can help in educating people about the racist implications in saying they want adorable “swirl babies” (ick) to “solve racism” by making all future people the same shade of brown. And it’s good to take a strong attitude of disapproval towards would-be parents who treat having mixed children as a goal in itself¹ but who qail at any attempt to discuss the actual complexities of real-world race relations.

    We can talk to them about objectification in general and try to combat the prevalent cultural belief that children are like pets or property rather than small, immature people who need help navigating the world. There are also the aspects of colorism to address, where the superiority of lighter skin and looser/finer/smoother hair are taken for granted and darker children with tight/thick/coarse hair are made to feel undesireable.

    And then, point the fetishizers to resources for becoming their child’s ally, resources for learning about race and racism in history and the present, resources for being positive about race without idolizing or fetishizing it, resources for helping their child gain access to any cultural aspects of their heritage they might develop interest in, etc.

    …………..
    ¹ As opposed to someone who wants to have children with their partner, who happens to be of another race.

  37. A. Noyd says

    Jafafa Hots (#33)

    I have no idea what you would agree with, and never gave a moment’s thought to that or you or anyone specifically when I typed what I typed.

    Then, next time, don’t quotemine me just prior to going off on a thoughtless tangent.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Tony (#37)

    http://mixedheritageproblems.tumblr.com/page/2

    Yes, good find. Thank you. And they reblog often from this blog, too.

  38. Maureen Brian says

    In the UK we’ve maybe been doing this longer but we have some pretty horrendous first-person accounts of children just dumped for adoption into totally un-prepared white families, then spending 2 or 3 decades trying to work out who the hell they are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemn_Sissay

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Kay

    Those are two of the success stories, people who have written about the experiences brilliantly, but they were not pain-free. There are stories I’ve deliberately not linked which are nightmarish by comparison. Some children have found themselves with families who pretended they were white and actively kept them away from any contact with people who looked like them.

    So there really are problems and they need to be openly considered and discussed.

  39. Pen says

    I was about to mention something similar to Maureen, that the business of cross-racial/cross-cultural fostering has been a big issue in Britain over the last several decades. I’m not sure what the official position is now.

    Some of the ‘justifications’ which might be more relevant in Britain than other countries include the much higher likelihood of fostered or adopted children having been brought up in non-European cultures, especially religions and languages. I wouldn’t choose to place a Christian child in a Muslim family or vice versa if an alternative was available. If the children have languages other than English, I would prefer a family who spoke those languages. Though I wouldn’t like to see a child stay in care for long simply because no ‘matching’ family could be found.

    I think this importance of ethnicity/culture versus race in Britain is stronger than elsewhere. These days, if I offered to foster a child and was assigned a white child, there’s quite a likelihood of them having an eastern European language and a background in some branch of Christianity I’m unfamiliar with. I doubt they would be better ‘matched’ with me than a black or mixed-race child who spoke only English, had a vaguely secular up-bringing and would find themselves in a racially mixed extended family.

    That’s the other thing about Britain – the rapid demographic change we’ve experienced. Any adult now talking about their experiences growing up is talking about a time when children of races other than white formed a tiny minority within the British population (less than 3%?) and mixed families were rare. This is when those policies were put in place. Now our demographic stands at 12-14% non-white and racially and culturally mixed families are extraordinarily common. According to the Guardian, one in 10 adults is in an inter-ethnic relationship (this includes different ethnicities within what Americans would call one race). A child fostered or adopted by parents of different races is extremely likely to have cousins/school friends, even half-siblings who are also from mixed families. The number of single-race extended families is shrinking rapidly. We’ve changed – a lot and that demographic change in itself should be enough to make us rethink our policies, if we haven’t already.

    Not that this has anything to do with picking a child’s father from a sperm catalogue.

  40. hyphenman says

    Good morning all,

    Since the practice, as I understand the protocol, is to fertilize with a mixture of sperm from a number of donors, I would think the best answer would be to not identify any donor’s contribution and let nature do what nature will.

    I have long had a problem with clinics that allow parents to select for intelligence (genius sperm), athletic (sports-star sperm) ability &c. because the idea of designer babies doesn’t sit well with me. I am not, however, a parent (or likely to ever be one), so my standing in this case may be suspect. As is often the case, technology has out stripped morals/ethics/law and we are playing catch-up.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  41. says

    Then, next time, don’t quotemine me just prior to going off on a thoughtless tangent.

    It was a quote, not a quotemine.
    As far as thoughtless, no… it was not thoughtless, nor was it a tangent.
    The thread was drifting dangerously toward telling women what is and is not an appropriate choice for them to make when it comes to reproduction and I wanted to reference that.
    I had several quotes to choose from, and I chose that one, NOT because I felt that was your personal view, but because the wording of the point of view you were were referring to best “served up” my comment. I was adding an aside.
    I thought that was clear.

    Now, please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying this as a clarification or apology or whatever because of your demand that I limit my speech or quotations of you to those you approve of or can manage to not misunderstand.

    In the same way that I recognize that such a demand coming from me, were I an obnoxious ass enough to make one, would be of no value and merit no response I recognize yours similarly.

    If you personally consider your demand to be of value you can take it and reinsert counterclockwise back in whichever orifice it came from, or do whatever else you choose. It has no value to me.

    As for tangents, this reminds me of that old subject of internet pigfights…
    It seems that they are still in fashion with some… I come across this now and then… I try to avoid them now myself, and these days my comments tend to me more offhand observations, quips, lame jokes, whatever… Some people though still seem to be looking for them everywhere, seem to want to read everything as a challenge.

    Lately it’s been mostly YouTube comments and 12 year olds on gaming forums, but now and then it crops up elsewhere and I find myself having to tell aggressive types to stuff a sock in it.

    Gets old.

  42. corwyn says

    Obama, the president of the USA is a half white mix.

    And there are people who fetishize those (presidents, I mean), perhaps we should stop having them…
    :-)

  43. carlie says

    As Tony said, quints said they could sympathize with some of the arguments against cross-cultural adoption, and WMDkitty said that they were asinine nonsense. That’s what I was responding to.

    maybe because it’s immoral and unethical to allow a child to rot away in an unfit home just because “culture”

    Who decides what “fit” means?

    and maybe, just maybe, because “culture” is a fucking social construct that is completely fucking irrelevant to whether or not you can provide a loving, stable home to a child.

    That’s disturbingly classist, and is exactly what is said every time a child is torn away from their extended family/ place of origin to give them a “better” home that just so happens to be to an upper-class US white couple who is tired of waiting through adoption processes in their own area and thinks it would be a lot “easier” to play white savior and grab one from somewhere else. Yes, it’s a tangent to the OP, but it’s one that was instigated by your broad blanket statement condemning quints’ comment that there are some valid arguments against cross-cultural adoption (which itself was not a derail, but a caveat to their actual point).

  44. dianne says

    A statement on the clinic’s website reads: “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.”

    Quite apart from everything else, has this person never heard of recessive genes? There’s a decent chance that the children of a mixed race woman will appear a different race than her based on her own genes, never mind her partners or sperm donor’s.

  45. roggg says

    FYI, on their web site:

    “Important News! The Calgary Regional Fertility Program wishes to correct erroneous media reports about a policy that restricts patients to using donors of the same ethnicity. No such policy exists. The clinic does not permit any form of discrimination on the basis of stereotypes, including race, gender or sexual orientation. For more than a year, patients of the Regional Fertility Program have had the choice of egg or sperm donors of any ethnicity. Unfortunately, this change in policy was not updated on our website, which is currently under construction. This was an oversight and that older policy has now been removed. Since changing our policy last year, the clinic has treated numerous patients who have requested donors of different ethnicity.”

  46. roggg says

    Posted prematurely. The statement continues:

    “Ethics and ethical debates have always characterized the topic of fertility treatments and will likely continue to do so in future but these difficult issues should not detract from the core work of the Regional Fertility Program in assisting individuals and couples create families. The change in policy reflects the multicultural society we live in today. The Regional Fertility Program respects ethnic diversity and the autonomy of the reproductive choices made by our patients. “

  47. hyphenman says

    So, this topic has launched a great discussion in my home and a question has come up that I don’t know how to address.

    What if a woman comes into a clinic and only wants sperm from white males? Is she being racist in any meaningful sense of the word? Her body, her choice, but does that change the discussion at all?

    Jeff

  48. says

    I live in Calgary, and was pretty stunned that this happened in my city. Today I read in the local paper (http://www.calgaryherald.com/Fertility+clinic+claims+ended+policy+about+ethnic+donors+more+than+year/10071895/story.html) that the person was in error and that the policy hasn’t been in effect for more than a year. Somehow this policy lasted until 2013, but OMG 2014 WE R SMARTUR NOW!

    Despite the “Calgary is the Texas of Canada” comments, it’s not really true. Calgary is a fairly strange town that supports all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t exepct a Conservative oil town to support. That’s really why this is such a surprise, we are a town that doesn’t care about this sort of thing. Or if they do care, they shut the hell up about it. Which is nice.

  49. A. Noyd says

    Jafafa Hots (#43)

    The thread was drifting dangerously toward telling women what is and is not an appropriate choice for them to make when it comes to reproduction and I wanted to reference that.
    I had several quotes to choose from, and I chose that one, NOT because I felt that was your personal view, but because the wording of the point of view you were were referring to best “served up” my comment. I was adding an aside.

    Ohhh, not a quotemine, you just had to separate that bit from me saying not to paternalistically limit women’s reproductive choices in order to add an “aside” about…not paternalistically limiting women’s reproductive choices? You’re full of shit.

  50. chigau (違う) says

    hyphenman
    From where do you get the notion that people seeking fertility assistance do not choose the sperm donor?
    Not by name but by any number of desired characteristics?

  51. hyphenman says

    @chigau (違う) No. 53

    It has been more than a score of years since I did any research into the procedures and I do not have intimate knowledge of the present system, but, as I recall, people could chose sperm from donors that resembled their spouse (and I would assume if a single woman was involved, resembling some model in the woman’s mind).

    That is different in my thinking from picking a race. My limited understanding of biology is that, as a species, we humans are among the least, if not the least, genetically diverse mammals. What would it mean then if a woman were to select for only white sperm donors? How possible would that be genetically? I don’t know, but putting white or Caucasian on my driver’s license is different from being all white genetically. Do fertility clinics go any further than asking donors to self-identify or, perhaps, having a staff member take a photo or guess the ethnicity of the donor?

    Jeff

  52. qwints says

    Sorry, didn’t mean to derail. My point was that

    1) The clinics concerns seem similar to cross-cultural adoptions; but
    2) those concerns don’t apply to sperm.

    So, even if you opposed cross-cultural adoptions, you still wouldn’t support this clinics policies.

  53. movablebooklady says

    “Race” is such a loaded word, and scientifically suspect, as well. There is only the human “race.” No need to use such an imperialist construct. I think it behooves all of us to try to use different wording when talking about humans of whatever stripe (or rainbow).

  54. qwints says

    Race is a social construct without a direct biological referent. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have real consequences for real people, that not talking about it will make it go away or that telling people they’re wrong about their racial identity isn’t hilariously awful.

  55. cmv says

    I wholeheartedly disagree with the policy of the clinic; there is no good reason to limit the choices of donors to be used.
    That said, I also think that the policy is being slightly mis-characterized here: the policy was that the donor sperm should racially match the donor or her partner. There is no indication that the clinic had any problem treating mixed-race couples, only that they had an issue adding diversity where it didn’t already exist.
    The accusations of racism are troubling as well: Dr. Greene is white, but half of the doctors on staff are asian, including the Medical Director. These are not white supremacists we’re talking about here.
    The policy was clearly wrong, but appears to revolve more around a misguided and out-dated concern that children should look like their parents than malice.

  56. hyphenman says

    @ movablebooklady

    That’s true, you’re absolutely correct.

    i wish I had a better word, but then the more I think on the subject, why do we need a word to describe the non-existent?

    Perhaps we should stick to prejudice, bigotry, hatred, &c. and call a spade a spade when these topics arise. That would be the most honest course.

    Jeff

  57. says

    cmv:

    That said, I also think that the policy is being slightly mis-characterized here: the policy was that the donor sperm should racially match the donor or her partner. There is no indication that the clinic had any problem treating mixed-race couples, only that they had an issue adding diversity where it didn’t already exist.

    If this were a case of adopting a child, would you say the same thing?
    The idea behind the clinic’s former policy is rooted in so-called ‘racial purity’.

  58. hyphenman says

    @ qwints No. 57

    I agree, “race is a social construct.” I wonder how many biology teachers, when they explain biological classification, have had the experience of students asking: “But why isn’t race on the list?”

    I do think we can bury the term is we refuse to use the word when discussing topics where one would easily use “race.” I’m uncertain how to go about the process, but I intend to think carefully in the future anytime I find the word about to trip off my tongue or out my fingertips.

    Jeff

  59. says

    hyphenman:

    I do think we can bury the term is we refuse to use the word when discussing topics where one would easily use “race.”

    Given that the perception of race as a category affects millions upon millions of people in a variety of ways, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and bury the term. It is still a social construct that is in usage and shapes the way people interact with one another.

    Please reconsider your words and they might be perceived by people of different ethnicities. It really seems like you’ve got privilege blinders on.

    *****
    For those that think the social category of race can or should be eliminated–
    White Privilege:

    Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of while privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

    I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.

    Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable. As we in women’s studies work to reveal male privilege and ask men to give up some of their power, so one who writes about having white privilege must ask, “having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?”

    After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are just seen as oppressive, even when we don’t see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.

    My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow “them” to be more like “us.”

    Daily effects of white privilege

    I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.

    1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

    2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

    3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

    4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

    5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

    6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

    7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

    8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

    9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

    10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

    11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

    12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

    13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

    14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

    15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

  60. CJO says

    These are not white supremacists we’re talking about here.

    But they’re clearly operating under a white-supremacist concept. One doesn’t have to be a prejudiced person or avowedly racist to act in such a way that upholds racism.

    The policy was clearly wrong, but appears to revolve more around a misguided and out-dated concern that children should look like their parents than malice.

    Sufficiently out-dated misguidedness is indistinguishable from malice. This “concern,” stated less euphemistically, is that white ancestry stays white and non-white ancestry be kept strictly separate and identifiable as such. It’s reprehensible.

  61. vaiyt says

    I do think we can bury the term is we refuse to use the word when discussing topics where one would easily use “race.”

    That won’t make the concept disappear, only make it more difficult to talk about honestly.

    Yes, race is something that only exists in our heads. But then again, so are things like love, money and law. You don’t make those disappear just because you started pretending they don’t exist.

  62. cmv says

    @61 Tony and 64 CJO

    I disagree with the policy in any case. The same arguments were (and still are) made with regards to adopted children. I think it is wrong-headed, but there you go.

    As for white-supremacy and racial purity, please explain to me how, exactly. The clinic is half asian, so I don’t buy it as “white supremacy” on its face, but let’s look at racial purity, shall we? No where does the clinic say it would not treat mixed-race couples. No where. It is not there, you are reading it in by omitting a key phase. I emphasized it in my last comment, but I will bold it here:
    “different than the recipient or the recipient’s partner
    I read that to say that, should a mixed race couple come in, they would offer sperm from donations of either of those races, but not others.
    For all of the reasons outlined by others above (race is a social construct and an arbitrary line to draw, the misguided worry about a child growing up with parents of different skin tone, etc), the policy was wrong. Calling them racist and saying that they are practicing anti-miscegenation is uncalled for based on the information in these articles. Calling them white supremacists is simply ignorant.

  63. says

    cmv:
    This

    “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.”

    is the same thing as saying “we won’t allow race mixing”. It’s fairly obvious to me that this policy was an attempt to keep the people of various races from intermingling.
    Your focus is on intent, which none of us can know (unless you’re psychic). My focus is on the effect. The effect upon patients who are denied sperm from a donor of a different ethnicity is “they don’t want race mixing to occur”.

    Calling them racist and saying that they are practicing anti-miscegenation is uncalled for based on the information in these articles.

    Racism is part of the fabric of many societies. I don’t live in Canada but somehow I don’t think they lack the same types of racial prejudices embedded in US culture.
    The policy is (or rather, was) racist. I’m not saying it’s a white supremacist policy (though I can easily see how one would arrive at that, given the history of white supremacy). I’m saying a policy that calls for “keeping the races separate” is based on racist beliefs.

  64. hyphenman says

    @ Tony! The Queer Shoop No. 63,

    Yes, the Backpack is an excellent teaching tool, and one I’ve used over the years when discussing power politics and privilege with my students.

    Race is a description/separator with no genetic support. You, I and everyone else on the planet are of one species. Those who hate and need a crutch to support their bigotry and prejudice lean on this term as if it had some validity in allowing them to disparage The Other.

    Yes, we are of different ethnic heritages. Yes, we speak different languages. Yes, most of humanity has some relationship to a religion of some sort. Yes, we have superficial exterior features that allow the ignorant to classify us without making any effort to know us. All of these, however, are social constructs.

    To divide humanity into Black, Yellow/Red, White is a gross oversimplification. Those who wish to justify their hatred have used numerous ploys such as descriptions of hair types, thickness or length of facial features, and most often, skin color.

    Even there, people of European ancestry can’t even decide who qualifies as one of them. In a discussion this morning on this topic a paternal Irish grandmother came up who didn’t think Italians or Greeks were “white.”

    Race simply isn’t a useful term because it oversimplifies the greater dynamic of people seeking to dismiss other people for bad reasons.

    As I said before, I’m not sure how to accomplish changing the conversation from Race to what is really going on because Race is such an easy shorthand. That the word is easy, makes it both dangerous and in the final analysis creates a barrier against progress.

    Jeff

  65. hyphenman says

    @ vaiyt No. 65

    I don’t mean that we stop talking about the implications of that which we gather together under the label of Race, but that rather we need to unpack the underlying pathologies and drag them into the light so that we can address what is really going on.

    Jeff

  66. CJO says

    I’m not “calling them white supremacists”.

    I’m saying they’re operating under a white supremacist concept, that the social construction, specifically, of whiteness needs to be regulated and its boundaries carefully policed. White supremacy is the basis of our society; no one really needs to opt in and explicitly adopt the designation, the concepts are foundational to the standard discourse of race as a biological reality.

  67. ck says

    I’ve got to say that the term “cross-cultural adoption” seems like a dog whistle to me. When I’ve heard the term used in a negative context, it was usually by those who opposed adoption of children based entirely on skin colour without reference to nationality or actual culture. The concept carlie is talking about sounds more like international child trafficking even if those who engage in it often merely call it adoption.

  68. The Mellow Monkey says

    hyphenman @ 42

    Since the practice, as I understand the protocol, is to fertilize with a mixture of sperm from a number of donors, I would think the best answer would be to not identify any donor’s contribution and let nature do what nature will.

    You understand wrong. One donor to one insemination is the standard practice.

    @ 50

    What if a woman comes into a clinic and only wants sperm from white males?

    That happens all the time. Insemination is not via lottery. You choose your donor.

    @ 54

    What would it mean then if a woman were to select for only white sperm donors? How possible would that be genetically? I don’t know, but putting white or Caucasian on my driver’s license is different from being all white genetically. Do fertility clinics go any further than asking donors to self-identify or, perhaps, having a staff member take a photo or guess the ethnicity of the donor?

    Race is based on self-identification. Most banks have a detailed physical description of the donor–sometimes with childhood photographs as well–and that description is made by someone who works there rather than the donor himself. This description is about coloring, features, and charisma. There is no genetic screening for race of donors. What I’ve seen of genetic tests that claim to track people’s ethnic ancestry leads me to believe it wouldn’t be particularly valuable.

    cmv @ 59

    That said, I also think that the policy is being slightly mis-characterized here: the policy was that the donor sperm should racially match the donor or her partner. There is no indication that the clinic had any problem treating mixed-race couples, only that they had an issue adding diversity where it didn’t already exist.

    Mixed race people can have kids with very diverse appearances, so the appearance of the couple isn’t really much of an indication of what genetic diversity might be there. My sister and I look like we have completely different racial backgrounds because of this.

    CJO @ 64

    But they’re clearly operating under a white-supremacist concept. One doesn’t have to be a prejudiced person or avowedly racist to act in such a way that upholds racism.

    QFT

    If I ever get pregnant, it’s going to be via a donor. I’ve thought long and hard about all of this and my partner and I will sometimes “window shop” sperm banks, debating the merits of different donors. The choices are already constrained: short donors are nearly impossible to find, some banks won’t accept donations from redheads, etc. There are all sorts of silly expectations about what counts as a high quality donor (he went to medical school!). I find it rather gross, TBH, so I’m not surprised to hear about racism factoring into the policy of a fertility clinic. (Oh, but they changed that policy a whole year ago!)

    Ugh. A dixie cup, a turkey baster, and a fertile friend seems like a better choice most days.

  69. ledasmom says

    The Mellow Monkey @ 74:

    The choices are already constrained: short donors are nearly impossible to find, some banks won’t accept donations from redheads, etc.

    Count me as exceedingly flabbergasted. Surely sperm is not so expensive to store that they couldn’t maintain some variety?

  70. hyphenman says

    @ David Marjanović No. 77

    As a ginger myself, I am shocked, I say shocked, at this blatant colourism. : )

    I suppose they simply don’t get much, or any, call for that particular type.

    Storage space is limited and you carry the stock you can move.

    Still, I wonder, if some national or international data base exists to locate sperm from a redheaded, or short, donor?

    Jeff

  71. cmv says

    @74 – I was using “diversity” as another word to use in the sentence.
    @67 – Tony, there is no indication that they refused to treat mixed couples. If the woman is Indian and the partner is Chinese, they wouldn’t provide sperm from a black donor, but they would provide from either an Indian or Chinese donor. You are extrapolating from the stated policy, and I think doing so unfairly given the information.

  72. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Creating a mixed-race embryo which will become a mixed-race child to be raised in a mixed-race culture is nothing like taking a child from one culture to a different culture, even if that child is the same race. The mind boggles that anyone ever thought that it could be a problem.

    However, what culture does a new-born baby have? And why not give a loving family home to a child who would otherwise grow up in an orphanage?

    To those condemning the adoption, by couples in the USA in particular, of babies born in South Korea:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303442004579121030310275014

    Now, I completely agree that adoption should be fully formalised and properly monitored; my English sister and her Iranian husband (who live in the USA) had to go through years of legal hoops and mountains of paperwork before they adopted their South Korean son*, and the ‘swoop-in-snatch-and-swoop-out’ so-called ‘adoptions’ turn my stomach because there is such a high likelihood of failure or even abuse. But I disagree strongly with the idea that all (or even most) legitimate international adoptions are driven, even in part, by feelings of racial, or cultural, supremacy. That is immensely hurtful to the people in mixed adoptive families who are just as good as mixed birth families, or adoptive families of single ethnicity.

    Anyway, what is ‘single ethnicity’? A fairly cursory search of my own (apparently all-white) family tree revealed people from all over, not only the British Isles, but Europe, Scandinavia and North Africa.

    I reckon that ‘White’ pretty much means ‘mixed’.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    *He was born in the same town as his (adoptive) aunt, the wife of my brother-in-law’s brother. He has half-Korean/half-Iranian cousins. My sister and brother-in-law chose foreign adoption because the USAian prejudice against Muslims made domestic adoption difficult for them; and they specifically chose South Korea because of the family links.

  73. says

    cmv:

    Tony, there is no indication that they refused to treat mixed couples. If the woman is Indian and the partner is Chinese, they wouldn’t provide sperm from a black donor, but they would provide from either an Indian or Chinese donor. You are extrapolating from the stated policy, and I think doing so unfairly given the information.

    And you’re assuming that I posted that link for that purpose.
    That said, I should have specified that I was linking to that to show the beauty of mixed race families (i.e. Rainbow families),, not to argue against the policy.