In Vitro We Trust

Peggy Orenstein in the New York Times Magazine:

20lede190Louise Brown turns 30 on Friday. These days, her name elicits little more than a mystified head shake. Who was she again? Let me refresh your memory: Little Louise was the world’s first “test-tube baby,” what we now refer to as an I.V.F. kid, or simply “the twins down the block.”

Brown’s life today is as unremarkable as the circumstances of her conception have become: she’s worked as an administrative assistant in Bristol, England, and is married with a naturally conceived toddler of her own. It’s hard to imagine that she begat one of the major revolutions of the 20th century: since her debut, more than three million babies have been born worldwide using I.V.F. or other reproductive technologies.

The dire, Henny Penny predictions that accompanied the Brown’s blessed event now seem quaint. An editorial in this newspaper observed that “probably not since the invention of nuclear weapons has a scientific advance been received with such mixed feelings.” Elsewhere, I.V.F. was decried as a “violation of God’s plan.” Conservative ethicists warned that the technology would ultimately create freakishly malformed babies or, equally monstrous, designer children genetically engineered to be stronger and smarter than the rest.

More here.