A test-tube baby is the product of a successful human reproduction that results from methods beyond sexual intercourse between a man and a woman and instead utilizes medical intervention that manipulates both the egg and sperm cells for successful fertilization. The term was originally used to refer to the babies born from the earliest applications of artificial insemination and has now been expanded to refer to children born through the use of in vitro fertilization, the practice of fertilizing an egg outside of a woman’s body. The use of the term in both media and scientific publications in the twentieth century has been accompanied by discussion as well as controversy regarding the ethics of reproduction technologies such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. The evolution of these terms over time mirrors the perception of our ability to manipulate the human embryo, as seen by the general public as well as the scientific community
The term “test-tube baby,” prior to the development of in vitro fertilization technologies in the twentieth century, was used to refer to babies born as a result of artificial insemination. William Pancoast, a physician from Philadelphia, performed the first artificial insemination that led to a successful birth in 1884, marking the birth of the first test-tube baby. Despite the fact that this was the earliest instance of any sort of physician-assisted reproduction, the grandeur of the event was not recognized by the public or media in any notable way.
As reproduction technology continued to develop and in vitro fertilization research advanced in the mid twentieth century, the media began to pay more attention to the idea of test-tube babies and the impact their existence would have on the world. Publications began to publish articles in the early twentieth century that discussed the ethics behind the creation of children through means other than human sexual intercourse.