Hastings Women’s Law Journal


Dov Fox


Assisted reproduction has answered many couples' hopes of conceiving a child. In assisted reproduction, the appearance of racial salience matters, and adjusting the prominence of race in decision making frameworks can shape social meaning. There is a spectrum of salience-varying approaches that sperm banks could adopt to manage information about donor race, each of which sends a different message about the social meaning of donor catalog and website design. This Article considers four such approaches: race-indifferent, race-sensitive, race-attentive, and raceexclusive. Although civil rights scholarship reveals that race-based classification is not a necessary condition of wrongful discrimination, we should remain diligent in considering when and why discriminatory practice worth resisting. Reflection on the race-conscious design of assisted reproduction donor catalogs opens a normative space to rethink the ways in which values such as autonomy, pluralism, and intimacy inform what it means to credentialize racial preferences whose legitimacy we tend to accept without question. Insofar as race tends to reproduce itself within the family, racial classification in sperm donor catalogs serves as a promising point of departure from which to ask what sort of racial self understandings our multiracial democracy should seek to embody.