Carolyn Savage knows more than most about the moral and ethical quandaries of in-vitro fertilization. An IVF clinic mistake left her impregnated with another couple’s child; she carried that child to term and gave him up to his biological parents, knowing that would have to be her last pregnancy for medical reasons. Later, she became the mother of twins through a surrogate. The mom of five reflects on how much has changed, and how much hasn’t, since the first “test tube baby” was born 34 years ago today.
By Carolyn Savage
I remember when the first “test tube baby” was born on July 25, 1978. Even though I was only 9 years old at the time and didn’t know a thing about the “birds and the bees,” I knew enough about where babies came from to understand that the birth of Louise Brown in Oldham, England, was a big deal.
When TODAY Moms asked me to watch the original story of the first child conceived through in-vitro fertilization, I was curious to see how the technology was viewed. I expected the first IVF to be reported with a science fiction aura, but aside from the use of the term “test tube baby,” I was pleasantly surprised to see how accurate and thorough Tom Brokaw’s story was. Surprisingly, it was not the tone of the 34-year-old TODAY report that struck me but, instead, the realization that some of the thornier moral, ethical and religious issues surrounding IVF in 1978 still exist today.
Since the birth of the first IVF child, the field of assisted reproductive technology has made remarkable advances. In-vitro fertilization has been proven to be safe and long-term studies have determined that children conceived through IVF live physically and emotionally healthy lives. Meanwhile, the advancement of embryonic cryopreservation allows pro-life infertile couples to give all of their embryos an eventual chance at life.