Swipe right for a sperm donor

Pick and choose.
Pick and choose.
Image: Reuters/Shirley Feng
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The London Sperm Bank is now taking orders for customized dads in the UK.

The organization just released a Tinder-esque mobile app that lets women filter potential sperm donors based on traits like ethnicity, occupation, personality type, eye color, and more. The search results are labeled with numbers like ”Donor 1002″ instead of names.

The first-of-its-kind app, released on Sept. 21, also gives women the option to create “wish list” alerts for possible surrogate fathers if they already know what they want and aren’t interested in browsing. It will notify them when a donor with their preferred characteristics becomes available. Then, the selected sample will be sent to the fertility specialist where the woman is undergoing treatment once a £950 (about $1200) payment is made through the app. London Sperm Bank, the UK’s largest with over 10,000 vials of sperm, charges the same amount if you were to order from their catalog instead of the app.

Some critics, however, say there’s a difference between narrowing down food delivery options by cuisines and choosing sperm donors by eye color. The abundance of choice and narrowness of selection categories, they say, could exacerbate the eugenic tendencies that already exist at traditional sperm banks. The practical innovation raises moral red flags: “How much further can we go in the trivialization of parenthood?” Josephine Quintavalle, the director of pro-life public interest group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, told The Times. “This is reproduction via the mobile phone. It’s digital dads. Choose Daddy. This is the ultimate denigration of fatherhood.”

In the eyes of the law, though, it is fair game. All donors on the app have been vetted by the British Andrology society, the British Fertility Society, and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to make sure they don’t have any infections or genetic conditions and their sperm is healthy and suitable for freezing. The donor’s anonymity is preserved, just like in a brick-and-mortar sperm bank.