Pandora's Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive Revolution
About the Reviewer:
Read, Write & Win 2nd place, 8th grade, 2007
As reviewed by: Laura P.
Nominated by: ALA, 2004 Notable Books for Adults - Non-fiction
Annotation: Beginning with the early days of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the early 70's, Henig outlines the advances in the field and the growing controversies and arguments that came with each advance. Seen through the eyes of researchers, couples hoping to conceive, hospital administrators, and bioethicists. Index, notes, list of selected readings.
In vitro fertilization may seem routine today, but back in the early 1970's when the development of it was just beginning, it seemed a horrendous idea. Many people, like the Pope and other leaders of the church, thought it to be an idea against the natural ways of god. But to women who didn't have the ability to give birth to a child of their own, it was their only hope. In Pandora's Baby, Robin Marantz Henig gives an insightful view into not only the scientific aspects of in vitro fertilization, but also the political issues that developed. Patrick Steptoe was the very first one to brave the procedure. Although a scientist by the name of Landrum Shettles planned on performing the procedure first; on an infertile women who had already tried infertility drugs, and everything else out there. Doris Del-zio was ready for a child, and when they made the incision into her abdomen, they thought it would be the last. After enduring the surgical pain afterward with no help from medicine (due to allergies), she got a call from Shettles explaining that a scientist of higher authority had thrown away the specimens from her and her husband due to the controversies surrounding IVF. Patrick Steptoe was then the first to carry out the procedure on Leslie Brown. Her perfectly normal child was born almost a full nine months later.
I believe this book is a brilliant look into how IVF developed. It looked not only at the issues that the scientists faced, but also the political issues and controversies that erupted. For instance, many were afraid that the IVF baby would be born deformed or premature. But that turned into a misconception when Louise Brown was born as healthy as could be. Also when her sister, another IVF child, had a child of her own: the natural way. Henig also described what IVF led to, how it provided knowledge to lead to such things as cloning. This book educated me in more ways than just the scientific facts.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was very interested in the topic of the book. I most definitely think this book should remain a Cornerstone nominee for the many possibilities it could pursue. I think many other people would enjoy this scientific and political book, and would be inspired to read more into the topic, and more modern creations.