London Sperm Bank turns away dyslexic donors in move branded as 'eugenics' by campaigners

The clinic said it prevented men with 'certain neurological conditions' such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD from donating sperm 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain’s largest sperm bank has been rejecting donors with dyslexia in an attempt to “minimise the risk of transmitting common genetic diseases or malformations to any children born”.

But the practice by the London Sperm Bank has been condemned as “eugenics” by charity campaigners and one would-be donor.

A leaflet from the centre - which was seen by the Guardian - listed several neurological conditions that prevented men from donating such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], autism, Asperger syndrome, dyslexia and the motor disorder dyspraxia.

Dyslexia currently affects an estimated 10 per cent of the population and there is a debate about whether it should be classed as a disability. 

Fred Fisher, a dyslexic Oxford graduate who was prevented from donating by the clinic in November, told the Guardian: “I was really taken aback to see dyslexia listed as a neurological disease.

“I’d never thought they would turn people away for having dyslexia, especially given how important we are told science and entrepreneurship are these days.” 

Several famous dyslexics - including serial entrepreneur Richard Branson and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs - have described their condition as a gift. 

The fertility regulator - the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - has launched a review into the clinic’s practices following the Guardian’s report. 

Vanessa Smith, the quality manager at the London Sperm Bank's parent company JD Healthcare said they have withdrawn the leaflet and are reviewing their practices.

When asked if the clinic still considered dyslexia to be a neurological condition, she told the Guardian: “Our literature states that but the policy is under review.

There may be some genetic component to it. But we are going to review all the recent literature about it.”