Last weekend, Gay Star News reported on the opening of the world’s first national sperm bank: a new initiative that will be run as a joint venture between the UK’s National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) and Birmingham Women’s Hospital. The bank will recruit sperm donors and help women and couples experiencing fertility problems or who may need donor sperm to extend a family.
This weekend, the Mail on Sunday got wind of the story and decided to run their own take on the announcement, with a front page headline declaring, ‘NHS to fund sperm bank for lesbians’
Despite acknowledging that the sperm bank would be open to all women who sought help, the bulk of the feature dwelled upon the fact that single women and lesbians would be able to make use of the bank’s services.
Pressing NGDT chief executive, Laura Witjens, on whether she thought this an issue, Ms Witjens replied, ‘There is no evidence to suggest that children are better off with or without a father… There’s never been a call – from us or the Department of Health – to reduce the access to sperm for same-sex or single women. That’s a non-issue.’
Clearly, it was an issue for the Daily Mail, who sought comments condemning the new NHS sperm bank from a range of sources, including Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who criticised the possibility of ‘designer babies’.
It’s worth noting that the bank’s NHS funding currently runs to a single £77,000 Department of Health grant to help it launch, and that users will subsequently have to pay up to £300 to make use of its database
With minutes of the feature appearing, Twitter was awash with comments – with many outraged by what they felt was the Daily Mail’s misleading headline and feature.
— #enry J.M. Davies (@hjmdavies) August 3, 2014
On top of the "Lesbian Sperm Bank" exposé, @MailOnline also has a great story about a government funded Prison for Whites* *Also other races
— Gazz Wood (@GazzPH90) August 3, 2014
Ahahahahahahha. Daily Mail calls new national sperm bank "Sperm Bank for lesbians". Oh ambassador, you spoil us http://t.co/d8U7gq2znT
— Zoe Williams (@zoesqwilliams) August 3, 2014
I do not profess to the wisdom of the Mail On Sunday nor gynaecological expertise, but wouldn’t a lesbian-only sperm bank have no deposits?
— OstendGudgeon (@OstendGudgeon) August 3, 2014
— Steve Campbell (@Stevebassist) August 3, 2014
Clearly, the NGDT’s chief executive, Laura Witjens, was also somewhat dismayed by the article’s headline.
Perfect. Phone ringing off the hook press wanting to talk about sperm and lesbians. http://t.co/he2N1UKGkG
— Laura Witjens (@LauraWitjens) August 2, 2014