The 25th birthday of Louise Brown, the first child born via
in-vitro fertilization, was a significant news story around
the world in late July. Most newspapers covered it. Many relied
on wire-service reports, which tended to focus on the large
party thrown in Cambridge (UK), of which Ms. Brown was the star,
along with about 1,000 other former "test-tube babies."
In general, as the London Observer (7/27/03) put it,
"all the conundrums were put on one side yesterday—for
a short while, as parents simply enjoyed the party and relished
the fact they had beaten the odds." http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1006702,00.html
In general, coverage was supprtive of IVF and of at least most
of the related technologies currently in use. There was frequent
mention of improved though still low success rates, and occasionally
of the difficulty of access to fertility treatments because
of their cost, particularly in the US (CNN, 7/25/03; AP, 7/24/03).
One BBC story focused largely on the lack of fertility treatment
in Africa, noting that "IVF remains the preserve of the
Some commentators used the perceived success of IVF to warn
against tighter regulatory oversight. Juliet Tizzard, director
of Britain's Progress Educational Trust, said, "Perhaps
one lesson we can learn from the past 25 years is to trust scientists
a little more and allow them the space to show how they, like
the IVF pioneers, can do good in the world." In her view,
at least in Britain, "science is actually running a long
way behind regulation."
Several low-key human-interest stories, especially in Britain
and Australia, featured people who had used IVF successfully.
One human-interest story (in the July 29 London Guardian)
covered a prominent actress who has had a so-far unsuccessful
experience. That story noted that "accounts of the emotional
and physical pain of fertility treatments are often presented
in the media with their raw edges softened by accompanying pictures
of adoring parents and their much longed-for baby." http://www.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,3605,1007729,00.html
The Los Angeles Times provided what may have been the
most substantial coverage in the US, with a feature on PGD (7/21),
and an overview of the history (7/24). The July 21 story quotes
CGS associate director Marcy Darnovsky and City University of
New York sociologist Barbara Katz Rothman, among others.
Other useful commentaries included: