You might have heard about the lesbian couple that went into the fertility clinic and came back with a surprise, in the form of a black baby. She, in turn, is suing the clinic that gave her the wrong sperm.

I’d had the thought prior to Kevin Williamson articulating it, but it actually represents something of a clash of liberal pieties:

While one must pity the poor little girl who is being treated like a defective Honda Civic, it’s a delicious clash of progressive pieties. The mother — and somehow I suspect that I’ll be informed five minutes from now that it is wicked to call the half of the couple who carried the child and gave birth the “mother” — Jennifer Cramblett, among other things complains that it is difficult to find a place to get her daughter a decent haircut. It should be a hoot watching her make that case in court. I’m a white, conservative guy from Texas, and even I know better than to go skipping merrily into the cultural minefield that is black women’s hair, a subject that calls to mind my favorite cowboy proverb: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

Same-sex couples are riding a wave of cultural ascendency, but we should not kid ourselves: This is America, and race still trumps everything. You doubt me? In 2008, I reported in National Review about the case of an adoptive couple who had raised several children with severe disabilities but was denied the opportunity to adopt another disabled child because the authorities doubted their commitment to preserving the girl’s cultural authenticity — they’d said they intended to raise their children to be “colorblind” — and because their community in Alaska was judged to be too white, something that might damage the girl’s self-esteem. The girl in question suffered both from fetal-alcohol syndrome, which had left her mentally disabled, and from Russell-Silver Syndrome, a form of dwarfism that left her with an asymmetrical body, a triangular face, a malfunctioning digestive system, and other problems. It is unlikely that she would ever develop the mental capacity to feel racial alienation, much less that that would ever become a top-ten problem in her life. But race is the alpha and the omega to some people. If only we had a good word for people like that…

I had actually bet that it would go in the other direction. On the one hand, you do have the racism and a sort that, had it come from a married couple in Arkansas or South Dakota – even ones registered to the Democratic Party – would be called out pretty freely, and the protestations dismissed. While racism may be the greatest of all sins, there is a greater quantity of liberal values in the other direction.

The first and foremost is the homosexuality. That itself may not be such a big thing – though it’s definitely something – except that it’s a story about two women. Two women seeking to exert their reproductive freedom. Conservatives and pro-lifers often look at “reproductive freedom” as a euphemism for the right to kill, but it genuinely does go beyond that. The only fathers in the entire country who are excluded from having to pay child support are sperm donors. Further, those who have sought to hold men accountable for their offspring have never even broached the issue. Why? Because hurting these men would hurt the women who want desperately to have children.

In feminism versus racism, I’d honestly bet on feminism most of the time these days. So while some are surprised by the sympathetic or at least comparatively neutral coverage these women have received, I’m not. So when the couple argues that it’s not about race, some liberals are – even those that see race everywhere else – are going to believe them.

With the petty politics out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the issue.

When I tweeted a link to the original story – retweeting someone who thought the lawsuit was awful – Dave in Hackinsack wanted to know what grounds there were for objection. Especially given that it’s undisputed that the clinic did, indeed, screw up.

This is a fair point, but ultimately I find it unconvincing. If we had to use a donor to have children, like this couple I would (probably) check the Caucasian box. And though I disagree with the clinic here, I might look a bit askance at someone who specifically wanted a child of a different race (though that would depend on the reason). Some of that is the desire that the kid look like the rest of the family. Some of it is the concerns brought up by Cramblett. A lot of it is concern over the assumption that the child isn’t mine – or ours – and that he might be mistaken for a burglar when coming home. But these, ultimately, are pretty First World Preferences. And it’s a difference between all-things-being-equal preferences, and initiating a lawsuit over. If you want a child, and you get a child, you love the child as best you can. And if it was a mistake, you file it away as the best mistake ever. Loving the child you have, instead of any inkling of regret over the child you would have had if everything had gone according to plan.

So while I am vaguely sympathetic to the pickle that this woman is in, and the legal case does seem substantive, there are some lawsuits you don’t file even if you can.

Category: Newsroom

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