When children start asking where babies come from, parents get frazzled and jumpy as they struggle to explain sex, conception, pregnancy and childbirth. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation, making a baby is a fairly straightforward process that remained unchanged for centuries. But the story got a new twist in 1978 when Louise Brown, frequently called the first test-tube baby, was born. Brown's birth, the first accomplished with in vitro fertilization, heralded a future in which some parents would be having a very different kind of conversation with children regarding where they came from.
Now, rather than needing just two people to make a baby, some people rely on an entire team of fertility specialists, egg and sperm donors and surrogates to bring a child into the world. Thanks to advances in reproductive technology, infertility is no longer a permanent obstacle for those who want to birth biological children. The ability to have children isn't necessarily eliminated once a woman turns a certain age or for homosexual couples. Not only are scientists finding ways to stop a ticking biological clock, they're discovering ways to turn pregnancy on its head.
The advances we'll discuss in this article aren't necessarily right around the corner, but bioethicists are already wringing their hands over the implications of future reproductive technology. Are we simply ensuring that a child has the best possible start in life, or are we playing God? How old is too old to have a baby? Will men and/or women become obsolete? Will the next generation be an army of clones? Who will be able to afford pregnancy and childbirth? And will a good old-fashioned roll in the hay become the least popular way to have a baby? These are the questions that scientists are pondering. Read on to find out how the birds and the bees talk might go in the future.