When a National Academy of Sciences study group in January called for outlawing the creation of babies via cloning, the world's media took notice, and so did the U.S. Senate, where a few days later the NAS report formed the centerpiece of a hearing. Largely ignored, however, was a recommendation in the report that could have much wider impact. The NAS panel concluded that it's time to consider imposing more regulations on the field of assisted reproduction.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) exploded into public consciousness in 1978 with the birth of Louise Brown, the first successful product of in vitro fertilization. In IVF, sperm and egg are mated in a lab dish, and a few days later the resulting embryo is transferred into a woman's carefully prepared uterus. IVF accounts for most ART business, but lately other procedures have emerged, among them intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which sperm is inserted directly into an egg, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, in which an embryo is vetted for genetic defects before transfer into a waiting womb.
This article was originally published with the title Looking at ART.