ALBERTA

Calgary Fertility Clinic Reverses No 'Rainbow Families' Policy, Clarifies Ethnic Donor Stance

07/30/2014 12:36 EDT
Vladimir Nenov via Getty Images

A private fertility clinic in Calgary has backpedalled on its reported no "rainbow families" policy, and stance against using donors that do not match a client's ethnic background.

The Calgary Herald broke the story on July 25, after "Catherine" — whose name was changed to protect her identity — was restricted from using donated sperm, eggs or embryos that did not share her Caucasian genetic makeup. When asked for comment, the Regional Fertility Program clinic administrative director, Dr. Calvin Greene, said, "I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants."

As of Monday, Salon.com reports this platform was echoed on the company website:

“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.”

Now, the centre's spokeswoman Paula Arab claims patients can choose donors from any ethnic background, and the aforementioned controversial policy is a thing of the past.

“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,” said Arab, in a new statement.

“Dr. Greene, a respected fertility physician, was speaking as an individual physician on the ethics of fertility."

Ethics aside, according to Catherine's account, she sought fertility treatments at RFP — the only private clinic in the city — last March. Still, Arab insists this policy has been reversed since then, and blames part of the miscommunication on an outdated website.

“For more than a year, patients of the Regional Fertility Program have had the choice of egg or sperm donors of any ethnicity," said Arab. "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.”

"No such policy exists. Since changing our policy last year, the clinic has treated numerous patients who have requested donors of different ethnicity.”

Open since the 1980s, RFP was able to operate with these limitations for nearly 30 years. But, former president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, Matt Gysler, tells the Globe and Mail this longtime restriction was no surprise, as fertility doctors can "essentially write their own rules."

On the other hand, Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says he did not "agree" with the former RFP mandate on in vitro fertilization.

"I don't think it's in keeping with the values of Albertans or society generally," he said, to Postmedia News, on Tuesday. Horne also said the province is working towards establishing clearer ethical guidelines or requirements for public fertility treatments, while weighing the merits of funding in vitro fertilization.

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