"How did you fit in a test tube?"*


Happy 30th birthday to Louise Joy Brown, the world's first IVF baby. Brown married in 2004 and is now a mother herself.


In the 1970s, IVF provoked a lot of moral handwringing and calls for bans on the technology. Fortunately the bioluddites were ignored. Since Brown's birth, some 3.5 million children around the world have been born by means of assisted reproduction techniques and 200,000 more join them every year.

One additional note: I suspect that enormous progress in assisted reproduction techniques has occurred because of an almost complete absence of federal government R&D funding.

*Brown told BBC Channel 4 that when she was a little girl: "The children used to ask questions like 'How did you fit in a test tube?'"

NEXT: Every Man a Jed Clampett

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You’d have to be pretty desperate to make it with a robot!

  2. Happy bithday wishes to Louise Joy Brown. I too remember the handwringing and cries of doom and gloom from the luddites.

    Golly gee, the fabric of society has not been ripped to shreds after all. Who’d a thunk it?

  3. J sub D,

    “Not been ripped to shreds”? The gays are gettin’ hitched! Where ya been?

  4. Just don’t mandate thatI can only buy a health insurance policy that covers fertility/assisted reproduction.

  5. Does she have superpowers?

  6. “”How did you fit in a test tube?”*”

    I have to admit it was more than a little bit tight. And the potential for breakage was most discomfiting.

  7. “Not been ripped to shreds”? The gays are gettin’ hitched! Where ya been?

    Oh yeah, I forgot about all the traditional marriages that are being ripped asunder by that apocalytic event.

    My bad.

  8. I’m going to ask what every red-blooded (heterosexual) male really wants to know:

    Did she turn out hot?

  9. Of course all the IVF males claim online that they have bigger test tubes

  10. Did she turn out hot?

    Not really. Google is your friend.

  11. It was only a couple of flipper babies!

  12. After seeing this picture, I might be joining the bioluddites’ side on this one….

  13. Google, like the sea, can be a cruel mistress.

  14. Maybe she looks better when viewed through test tube goggles at closing time.

  15. I am the father of an IVF “soon-to-be” teenager. Best wishes to Louise, and to all those who hope for success with IVF.

    I posted an entry on my stamp blog about the world’s first Infertility stamp being issued this year. I re-released it in honor of Louise’s birthday. The link is http://www.stampsofdistinction.com/2008/07/happy-30th-birthday-in-vitro-baby.html

    Admin: if you find this on-topic, yet self-promoted, link inappropriate for your comments section, please delete (and forgive).

  16. David Plotz wrote a very entertaining book about the Nobel Sperm Bank; and comes to the conclusion that the children, IF they are told, face the dilemma of feeling abandoned by their fathers.

    What kind of man walks away from his own kids? Plus, at sperm banks, “successful donors” can “father” twenty kids, or even more.

    Ahead, will there be more details about the donors? Egg & Sperm? Given that the other thing that’s become a piece of “more informative” is the quest for genetic information.

    Yes. There is a strong drive to have children.

    But an even better drive to talk about the ramifications. Hand wringing? Or quests for super-sperm. Turns out there wasn’t one kid conceived from a Nobel donor. Why not? The age of the gentlemen left their sperm unproductive.

    Eventually, judges have to decide.

  17. Happy belated b-day Mrs. Louis Joy Brown. I was born four months before her… never knew or read anything about her till today(we are so close on age)…now a mother of an IVF baby myself, I’m so thankful to God for guiding Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe and to Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe for their passion and persistence.

  18. Google, like the sea, can be a cruel mistress.

    Genetics too, it seems….

  19. Yikes! Channel 4 isn’t part of the BBC! Change it, quick!, before you’re reported to the trademark lawyers. (Although BBC4 is part of the BBC, as is BBC Radio 4, you don’t need to care about that right now, what with the legal troubles you’re facing.)

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.