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American Experience - Test Tube Babies


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Frequently Bought Together

American Experience - Test Tube Babies + Technostorks: A Documentary on Infertility and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Price for both: $31.42

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Product Details

  • Actors: Blair Brown
  • Directors: Chana Gazit, Hilary Klotz Steinman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000IOM0NS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,353 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

For centuries, the prospect of conceiving a human being in a laboratory seemed ripped from the pages of science fiction. Then, in 1978, everything changed. This documentary tells the story of doctors, researchers, and hopeful couples who pushed the limits of science and triggered a technological revolution in human reproduction. In so doing, they landed at the center of a controversy whose reverberations continue to this day.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Richard Schrock on December 17, 2012
"Test Tube Babies" American Experience Series, DVD PBS Home Video/WGBH 2006, 60 min.

Beginning with September 12, 1973, Dr. and Mrs. Del-zio want a baby but must resort to egg-harvesting for the first attempt at In-vitro Fertilization (IVF); the egg is delivered to the lab of Dr. Landrum Shettles. The program then flashes back to the 1930's research with rabbit IVF. John Rock [of fame in developing the birth control pill but this is not mentioned] conducted early experiments and achieved the first fertilized embryo in 1944 but his work with IVF ends when his skilled lab assistant moved away. Shettles pursues human IVF despite objections of his boss. But Edwards and Steptoe in the UK research IVF at a faster pace. Ethicists, including Art Caplan, explain social concerns of the time. The U.S. NIH places a moratorium on funding IVF research. Columbia Presbyterian warns and demotes Shettles, but he continues his research in defiance.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Roe versus Wade. Embryo research becomes intermingled with social debates on "when does life begins" [not actually a biological debate since life never ends across generations; the real question has evolved today to "when does legal personhood begin"]. Mrs. Del-zio describes the agony of infertility. In a return to the opening scene, Shettles boss orders the destruction of Shettles incubating IVF experiment. Shettles is forced to resign. The Del-zios bring a lawsuit against Shettles' boss. The Edwards and Steptoe decade-long attempt to produce a successful IVF baby finally results in the birth of a healthy baby girl on July 25, 1978, in the midst of the trial. This news exonerates IVF as dangerous and experimental. The Del-zios win the case but receive a minimal award. Shettles' career is never restored.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on November 14, 2006
I had no knowledge whatsoever about the history of IVF, so I couldn't be critical of this documentary generally. I am glad that the documentary makers decided that IVF need ed to be a part of the "American Experience."

From one baby in the late 1970s, now 2.5 million people worldwide owe their lives to IVF. Because this procedure lacks controversy now, to some, this work may seem dated. However, this settled debate may remind many nowadays of the controversy over stem cell research. This documentary suggests that the US and Britain were in a race to see who could successfully perform IVF first; this reminded me of the race in AIDS research between the US and France, as described in "And the Band Played On."

This film repeatedly spoke about couples who wanted children, but oftentimes, individuals were interviewed separately. I wonder if many of the interviewed couples have divorced since they requested IVF.

I guess I have one critique. Issues of class were not brought up. I hear IVF is still INCREDIBLY expensive. I assume that only rich couples have it as an option though the procedure is available. If the documentary makers wanted to be thorough, they would have brought this up.
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American Experience - Test Tube Babies
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