Pandora's Baby; June 2003; Scientific American Magazine; by Robin Marantz Henig; 6 Page(s)
On July 25, a once unique person will turn 25. This nursery school aide in the west of England seems like an average young woman, a quiet, shy blonde who enjoys an occasional round of darts at the neighborhood pub. But Louise Brown's birth was greeted by newspaper headlines calling her the "baby of the century." Brown was the world's first test tube baby.
Today people may remember Brown's name, or that she was British, or that her doctors, Steptoe and Edwards, sounded vaguely like a vaudeville act. But the past quarter of a century has dimmed the memory of one of the most important aspects of her arrival: many people were horrified by it. Even some scientists feared that Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards might have brewed pestilence in a petri dish. Would the child be normal, or would the laboratory manipulations leave dreadful genetic derangements? Would she be psychologically scarred by the knowledge of how bizarrely she had been created? And was she a harbinger of a race of unnatural beings who might eventually be fashioned specifically as a means to nefarious ends?