Britain is to get its first NHS-funded national sperm bank to make it easier for lesbian couples and single women to have children.
For as little as £300 – less than half the cost of the service at a private clinic – they will be able to search an online database and choose an anonymous donor on the basis of his ethnicity, height, profession and even hobbies.
The bank, which is due to open in October, will then send out that donor’s sperm to a clinic of the client’s choice for use in trying for a baby.
Heterosexual couples will also be able to benefit, but the move – funded by the Department of Health – is largely designed to meet the increasing demand from thousands of women who want to start a family without having a relationship with a man.
Critics last night called it a ‘dangerous social experiment’ that could result in hundreds of fatherless ‘designer families’.
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said last night: ‘It is the welfare of the child that must come first and not the fact that people want a particular kind of baby.’