Bioethics News

London sperm bank allegedly promoting eugenics

The largest sperm bank in the UK is being investigated by the national fertility regulator for promoting eugenic practices. Following complaints about the London Sperm Bank, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority has asked why donors with a long list of medical conditions are being excluded.

These include: attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], autism, Asperger syndrome, dyslexia, severe obsessive compulsive disorder, colour blindness, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson disease and the motor disorder dyspraxia.

Media attention focused on dyslexia, as a number of prominent high achievers have been dyslexics, like Sir Richard Branson and Steve Jobs.

Fred Fisher, a 30-year-old dyslexic Oxford graduate who is working as a software engineers, was rejected by the sperm bank. “I told them this was eugenics, but it’s not even good eugenics. Would they turn away Richard Branson or Albert Einstein? We need innovative people who think differently in the world. Dyslexic people make a great contribution to our society.”

Steve O’Brien, chair of the Dyslexia Foundation, told The Guardian: “This is eugenics. It’s trying to say that dyslexics shouldn’t be in society.”

A spokesperson for the London Sperm Bank denied that the company’s policy was eugenicist. However, in a now-withdrawn leaflet, it stated that it excluded men with certain conditions to “minimise the risk of transmitting common genetic diseases or malformations to any children born”.

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.