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Rainbow families

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In a moment that seemed straight out of the 1950s, a Calgary fertility doctor announced last week that he doesn’t believe in facilitating the creation of “rainbow families.” The unfortunate remarks have single-handedly revived the call for more regulation of Alberta’s fertility industry, and rightly so.

The statement came after a local Calgary woman alleged that during a consultation at the Regional Fertility Program last year, she was told she could only receive sperm from a donor of the same race as her. This was part of a former policy the clinic followed, which stated it would not “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 statement has been removed from the facility’s website. In response, Dr Calvin Greene, a fertility specialist and administrative director at the clinic, 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.” The clinic is now saying it changed its policy last year—with the statement remaining on the website by accident—and that Greene wasn’t speaking for the clinic when he made those remarks.

The fact that a fertility clinic has been allowed to have such a discriminatory policy until last year shows that there is not enough regulation in place. The provincial government clearly needs to take a more active role in making sure ethical and racial issues like these are dealt with properly. This is especially important given the recent news that more and more Edmontonians are being forced to go to Calgary and other areas for their fertility treatment due to a severe lack of options in here. That this one person is allowed to express his opinion to patients and the public, even though it’s not the clinic’s mandate anymore, is concerning. And when it affects the ability of a woman to get pregnant—who may want to use the sperm of a man from a different ethnicity—then more regulation is clearly needed.

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