UPDATE: July 29 -- On Monday, the fertility clinic released a statement to The Calgary Herald, saying that patients have had the option to choose a sperm donor from any ethnicity “for more than a year," and that the clinic has treated "numerous patients who have requested donors of different ethnicity.”
"Unfortunately, this change in policy was not updated on our website,
which is currently under construction," Regional Fertility Program spokeswoman Paula Arab told the Herald. "This was an oversight and that older policy has now been removed.”
The statement also addressed comments from Dr. Calvin Greene, the clinic's administrative director, who in an earlier interview said: "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.”
“The comments in recent news reports that were attributed to Dr. Cal Greene represent his own opinions and do not reflect policies at the clinic,” the new statement reads, per the Herald. “Dr. Greene, a respected fertility physician, was speaking as an individual physician on the ethics of fertility.
A 38-year-old woman undergoing in vitro fertilization at a reproductive center in Alberta, Canada, was told she could use sperm only from donors who share her race. The lab's decision is part of a policy that has been in place for decades and has recently prompted backlash online.
The Regional Fertility Program in the city of Calgary says it does not permit patients to use sperm or egg donors from any race other than their partner's or their own. Dr. Calvin Greene, administrative director at the clinic, told The Calgary Herald that the policy has been around since the 1980s and 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."
“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.”
The policy, as stated on the clinic's website, reads:
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, who is white, told the Herald she was "floored" by the clinic's policy, particularly because it limited the pool of people who met her criteria when she was searching for a donor back in March.
Others echoed her disbelief by calling the policy outdated and the clinic a "eugenics laboratory."
A commenter on the The National Post's story on the clinic said:
[P]eople with white skin color (or black skin color) could actually possess potentially dozens of "ethnicities" in their historical ethnic lineage. ... How on earth can this clinic parse out all the ethnic divisions to make sure a pure product emerges? Oh, but of course, it cannot and it's just the obvious traits that matter (skin color, eye shape, etc.). So what they are really advocating is an outmoded and entirely discredited theory of 19th century racial hygiene.
Similarly, a commenter on Buzzfeed's article said:
When the people who are capable of controlling the physiological outcomes of your yet-to-be-created child begin to enforce their opinions of the appropriateness of certain characteristics, they cease to be a "fertility clinic" and become a eugenics laboratory.