Our medical director, Dr. Sonya Kashyap, responds to the National Post article published on July 25, 2014: No ‘prerogative’ to create ‘rainbow families’: Calgary’s only fertility centre bans donations that don’t match ethnicity.
There has been significant coverage in the media about National Post’s article addressing Regional Fertility Program’s policy which “restricts patients from using sperm, eggs or embryos from donors who do not match their ethnic background.”
Canada is well-known for its multiculturalism, our acceptance and celebration of all racial, religious and cultural backgrounds. This should be even truer in fertility science where choosing the right embryo or sperm should be done rationally and free of racial prejudice.
In fact, in 2014, it is very difficult to pinpoint one’s ‘true ethnicity’ due to Canada’s increased number of multicultural families which has resulted from a large mixing of ethnicities. For example, a Caucasian individual may appear to descend from parents strictly with the same ethnic backgrounds, but it might not be the case. Even more, just because someone is of a certain ethnic background, it does not mean they identify with it. A person with Asian decent who was born in Canada will likely identify stronger with the Canadian culture than that of their native roots.
From a purely scientific perspective, increased mixing of the gene pool generally leads to the stronger genes of the two parents being selected, which can be beneficial to the resulting child. This allows for “autosomal recessive” conditions, which appear in purer ethnic groups, to be ‘over-powered’ by genes from another ethnic group. This provides children of mixed decent with a reduced chance of having ethnically related medical conditions such as thalassemia, cystic fibrosis and Tay Sachs disease.
As fertility doctors, we aim to do what’s best for the patients and their families, regardless of their racial background. We collect information about ethnicity from individuals to ensure we are doing the appropriate genetic and medical screening to identify ethnically related medical conditions. This helps avoid conditions that may require treatment or which can be lethal to infants.
At the end of the day, our utmost primary goal is always to ensure people have healthy and happy babies, regardless of their skin colour.