British women can now using a mobile phone app to choose a sperm donor to sire their child. Created by London Sperm Bank Donors, it appears to be the first service of its kind in the world.
Dubbed “Order-a-Daddy” or “Kinder Tinder” by journalist wags, the app offers various “filters” to narrow down the list of potential bio-dads. Factors such as race, nationality, eye colour, height, education level and occupation are in the mix. There’s even a description of their personality, which of course is NOT written by the donor himself, but rather is the sperm bank’s “impression” of him. For example, one guy is described as “pleasant, charming, and easy to get on with — a cheerful intellectual teeming with positivity.”
A “wish list” can be created, which will trigger an “alert” when the selected characteristics become available. If a suitable donor is found, the mother-to-be makes a £950 payment, via the app, and the sperm is then delivered to the fertility clinic. There is no rating system, like on Uber, presumably because you would have to wait to see if the kid goes to college before assigning any stars.
The app is perfectly legal, and meets the requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the regulator for in vitro fertilization (IVF). It is estimated that about half of Britain’s IVF clinics have registered to use the service, which promotes itself as a way to “plan your family on the go.”
According to a story in The Independent, some critics have complained that the app seems frivolous. Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, was quoted in The Times: “How much further can we go in the trivialization of parenthood? This is reproduction via the mobile phone. It’s digital dads. Choose Daddy. This is the ultimate denigration of fatherhood.”
But Dr Kamal Ahuja, scientific director of the London Sperm Bank, said the app was in keeping with the rise in online transactions. “You make all the transactions online, like you do anything else these days,” he told The Independent. “This allows a woman who wants to get a sperm donor to gain control in the privacy of her own home and to choose and decide in her own time.”
For all your questions about family and fertility law, contact Shirley Levitan
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Bill Rogers is a Toronto-based lawyer, journalist, and family law mediator.