London Sperm Bank Bans Dyslexic Donors
R. Siva Kumar
January 04, 2016 11:30 AM EST
The London Sperm Bank, which is the biggest one in Britain is playing "eugenics", say critics. Donors with neurological conditions like "dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Asperger syndrome and autism" are turned away regularly, according to the Daily Mail.
The ban was put in place to "minimize the risk of transmitting common genetic diseases or malformations to any children born," according to The Guardian.
Hence, Fred Fisher, an Oxford graduate and also a dyslexic, was rejected by the sperm bank in November.
"I was really taken aback to see dyslexia listed as a neurological disease," the 30-year-old man said. "I'd never thought they would turn people way for having dyslexia, especially given how important we are told science and entrepreneurship are these days."
This is slammed as eugenics, which seeks to "improve the quality of human population when it discourages the propagation of genes that do not have some desirable traits". However, dyslexia is not a liability, he said. "Dyslexic people make a great contribution to the world" for their creativity and ability to think outside the box, he pointed out.
Steve O'Brien, the chairman of The Dyslexia Foundation, added: "This is eugenics. It's trying to say that dyslexics shouldn't be in society," O'Brien said. "But we're moving into a visually dominated world of Instagram and YouTube where, given the right tools it is no longer an issue because people with dyslexia are right-brained often with hyper-visual skills."
The London Sperm Bank has been tapped by The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) whose actions and policies are being reviewed.
"The HFEA has never required or endorsed prohibiting people with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD and other disorders from becoming sperm donors," the agency said. "The clinic's HFEA inspector is clarifying our requirements for selecting donors with the centre, and is reviewing all the exemptions cited in the centre's materials, to ensure that all future donors are treated fairly and in accordance with the law."
Vanessa Smith, quality manager of the JD Healthcare Group, a company that runs London Sperm Bank, agreed that banning donors with certain neurological conditions was written in the sperm bank's leaflet, however, "the policy is under review," she explained.
"There may be some genetic component to it. But we are going to review all the recent literature about it," Smith said.