Following the birth of the first baby to be artificially conceived outside a woman's body, there were celebrations from some people in the Lancashire town of Oldham -- where the young girl was born to Mrs Lesley Brown on Tuesday (25 July).
Following the birth of the first baby to be artificially conceived outside a woman's body, there were celebrations from some people in the Lancashire town of Oldham -- where the young girl was born to Mrs Lesley Brown on Tuesday (25 July). The birth of the child, known as the "test tube" baby, has become the subject of world wide interest and discussion. Scientists and theologians around the world have been debating subjects as divers as medical techniques and moral implications. The baby was born to Mrs Brown, who had been unable to conceive normally because her fallopian tubes are damaged. She became pregnant after doctors removed an egg from her body, which was then fertilised in a laboratory with her husband's sperm, and then replaced in her womb.
SYNOPSIS: Oldham General Hospital in North West England was deluged with mail, letters and gifts for Mrs Brown and her new-born daughter Louise. And according to officials, some of the letters held inquiries from other women hoping to be future "test-tube mothers. Some of the letters were addressed to "test-tube baby", some simply to "Brown".
People in Oldham read the world's reaction to the birth. Some gynaecologists welcomed the news. Japanese Professor Rihachi Lizuka, an authority on artificial insemination, said the birth was a blessing to women unable to conceive children normally. But other doctors and scientists in Japan said restrictions should be placed on what they called "unnatural experiments".
Oldham school children spent art classes sketching the baby, Louise. But the apparent unquestioning acceptance by school children of the event in an uncritical way did not carry over into religious circles, where the ethical questions of the birth are being examined.
Last week, Dr. Charles Douglas, Head of Cambridge University's Department of Obsterics and Gynaecology, said the technique used by Doctors Patrick Steptoo and Robert Edwards is so difficult that it will not solve the mass scale problem of infertile women. The Roman Catholic Church has already come out strongly against artificial insemination, but is expected to adopt a more cautious approach to the question of conception and fertilisation outside the mother's body. But even within the Catholic Church there is disagreement about policy towards the birth.
In some bars of Oldham though, there were celebrations and a warm welcome for the first "test-tube" baby. Patrons sang a local song "She's a Lassie from Lancashire". It was a song for Louise and her mother too. The questions about the moral issues will continue, but in Oldham they were talking about the feeding and rearing of the new baby, and signing to her health.