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excerpted from: Aziza Ahmed, Race and Assisted Reproduction: Implications for Population Health, 86 Fordham Law Review 2801 (May 2018) (86 Footnotes (Full Document)


AzizaAhmedThis Article emerges from Fordham Law Review's Symposium on the fiftieth anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the case that found antimiscegenation laws unconstitutional. Inspired by the need to interrogate the regulation of race in the context of family, this Article examines the diffuse regulatory environment around assisted reproductive technology (ART) that shapes procreative decisions and the inequalities that these decisions may engender. ART both centers biology and raises questions about how we imagine our racial futures in the context of family, community, and nation. Importantly, ART demonstrates how both the state and private actors shape family formation along racial lines. By placing a discussion about race and ART in the context of access to new health technologies, this Article argues that assisted reproduction has population-level effects that mirror broader racial disparities in health. In turn, this Article intervenes in a bioethics debate that frequently ignores inequalities in access when thinking through the consequences of ART.

Part I presents a case study of the Sperm Bank of California (SBC) to demonstrate how ART represents a new mode of governing the family that facilitates and encourages the formation and creation of monoracial families.

Part II borrows a public health analytic, the “burdens of disease,” to explain how the (re)production of monoracial families has consequences for health at the population level, especially when placed in the context of racially disparate access to ART services.

Ultimately, this Article concludes that ART, as it is currently accessed and utilized, maintains racial orders with regard to health given the inequality in access to these services.

. . .

This Article explores how state and private actors shape decision-making on race in the context of family formation and reproduction and its impact on public health. The selection of gametes and genetic material for the purpose of reproduction raises core questions about the centrality of race in discussions on family and kinship. Service providers aid in the regulation of racial selection of families, typically by recommending that families race match in the gamete-selection process. Race matching, in the context of racial inequality in access to ART services, will have aggregate population-level effects along racial lines reflecting larger structural inequalities. These structural considerations have largely been ignored in the broader bioethical debate on assisted reproduction and genetics.

Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law.