Four decades ago, a majority of Americans told pollsters that the idea of creating a baby in a test tube went “against God’s will.” In early October, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to one of the men who helped make in vitro fertilization a reality.
Physicians specializing in fertility medicine said the prize — awarded to 85-year-old British biologist Robert G. Edwards — was long overdue and reflects how far the field has come. IVF initially sparked suspicion and condemnation from religious authorities, scientists, medical ethicists and the public.
In the 32 years since, more than 4 million children worldwide have been born with the help of IVF. Doctors have seen the attitudes shift in their patients, who in decades past felt stigmatized when seeking out IVF but today often regard the technique as a first option when natural methods fail.
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