Nature is not the only one looking back on the birth of Louise Brown. In the New York Times, Peggy Orenstein reflects on the history of IVF and the challenges ahead:
Louise 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.
[I]t’s easy to forget the disturbing questions about I.V.F. — its practices, ethics and impact on public health — that do remain and are left largely subject to a physician’s conscience and a patient’s desires. The trouble is, doctors who do I.V.F. are selling a product and their patients are so vulnerable, their experience with infertility so fraught, that they’re not always willing or even able to act in what seems like their own best interest.