THE PURSUIT OF PARENTHOOD, a book by Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner

Reproductive Technology from Test-Tube Babies to Uterus Transplants. Since the 1978 birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in England, more than eight million children have been born with the help of assisted reproductive technologies.

From the start, they have stirred controversy and raised profound questions: Should there be limits to the lengths to which people can go to make their idea of family a reality? Who should pay for treatment? How can we ensure the ethical use of these technologies? And what can be done to address the racial and economic disparities in access to care that enable some to have children while others go without?

In The Pursuit of Parenthood, historian Margaret Marsh and gynecologist Wanda Ronner seek to answer these challenging questions. Bringing their unique expertise in gender history and women’s health to the subject, Marsh and Ronner examine the unprecedented means—liberating for some and deeply unsettling for others—by which families can now be created. Beginning with the early efforts to create embryos outside a woman’s body and ending with such new developments as mitochondrial replacement techniques and uterus transplants, the authors assess the impact of contemporary reproductive technology in the United States.

In this volume, we meet the scientists and physicians who have developed these technologies and the women and men who have used them. Along the way, the book dispels a number of fertility myths, offers policy recommendations that are intended to bring clarity and judgment to this complicated medical history, and reveals why the United States is still known as the “Wild West” of reproductive medicine.

Margaret Marsh is a University Professor of History at Rutgers University. Wanda Ronner is a Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. They are the authors of The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present and The Fertility Doctor: John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution.

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