What a sad day. The woman who thought she would never give birth to a child, back in the 1970s, when there was no such thing as a “test tube baby” has died. The NY times has published a very nice overview (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/health/lesley-brown-mother-of-first-test-tube-baby-dies-at-64.html).
These days we take artificial insemination for granted. But the truth is, it is still a tedious, imperfect and very expensive process. The field has expanded enormously to include frozen embryos, surrogate pregnancy and even the possibility of “designer babies”. All fascinating ideas and the subject of much discussion regarding morality, ethics and of course, legality. The entire new field of law, often referred to as ART, for Artificial Reproductive Technology, is fascinating. The Family Law Section on the American Bar Association, which I currently Chair, has seen its membership increase and it’s attendance increase since this issue has grown. Our seminars and our publications now spend significant time covering these topics, and the professionals in this field, are highly motivated. They are on the cutting edge. The entire Family Law Section, the entire American Bar Association, and in fact, the entire country (and yes, the legal world) benefit from the work these professionals are doing. They are trying to chart courses in previously unnavigated waters. What a challenge, what a responsibility and what a blessing to have folks motivated to try so hard to get it right, to do the right thing. They did not invent these issues, but are trying ensure we can all work with them and understand the rights of parents, children and perhaps even rights of embryos. I do not intend to start a philosophical or religious or moral debate, but the absence of any law in this area until our generation makes the work that much more crucial. I am looking forward to new developments every day, and again thank Lesley Brown and the others who advanced this field and allowed people who otherwise may never have experienced the joy of parenting their own biological child, to do so.