The news in 1978 that Lesley Brown was about to deliver the world's first TEST-TUBE BABY sparked banner headlines--and the sort of debates that still rage over cloning and stem-cell research:
For many scientists, there were even more sweeping ramifications. They noted that in-vitro fertilization techniques may give researchers an important new laboratory tool for devising ways of coping with genetic diseases, testing new methods of contraception and, perhaps most important of all, studying close up one of nature's most awesome and still baffling processes: the first stirrings of life... Other researchers were far more skeptical of going beyond in-vitro fertilization to the actual implantation in the uterus. "The potential for misadventure is limitless," said Dr. John Marshall, head of obstetrics and gynecology at Los Angeles County's Harbor General Hospital. How sure could anyone be that the Browns' baby would not be deformed, he asked. "What if we got an otherwise perfectly formed individual that was a cyclops? Who is responsible? The parents? The doctor? Is the government obligated to take care of it?"
--TIME, July 31, 1978