Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home (1925–1961)
Between 1925 and 1961, a Roman Catholic order of nuns called the Bon Secours Sisters operated the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, or the Home, an institution where unmarried pregnant women gave birth in Tuam, Ireland. Pregnant women who delivered their infants at the Home were required to work at the Home for no less than one year without pay. The Irish government and the Catholic Church endorsed the Mother and Baby Home as a means to limit the number of children born out of wedlock by discouraging women from getting pregnant before marriage. During the Home’s thirty-six years of operation, the nuns reported that almost 800 children died in their care. In 2015, researchers discovered a tomb of 796 infant and child skeletons in a septic tank underneath where the Home once stood.
Vegas Baby (2016)
In 2016, Runaway Films released the documentary Vegas Baby
. The film, directed by Amanda Micheli, follows three women who struggle with infertility
problems as they undergo in vitro fertilization
, or IVF treatment, to become pregnant. In IVF treatment, a woman’s egg
is fertilized by a sperm
outside of the woman’s body.
Hormone Releasing Intrauterine Devices
Hormone releasing intrauterine devices or hormonal IUDs are contraceptive devices placed in a woman’s uterus
to prevent pregnancy
by continuously releasing a low dose of certain hormones
. Jouri Valter Tapani Luukkainen, a medical researcher at the University of Helsinki, introduced the first hormonal IUD in 1976. Luukkainen’s IUD was a plastic device shaped like a capital T.
William Thomas Astbury (1898–1961)
William Thomas Astbury studied the structures of fibrous materials, including fabrics, proteins, and deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in England during the twentieth century. Astbury employed X-ray crystallography, a technique in which scientists use X-rays to learn about the molecular structures of materials. Astbury worked at a time when scientists had not yet identified DNA’s structure or function in genes
, the genetic components responsible for how organisms develop and reproduce. He was one of the first scientists to use X-ray crystallography to study the structure of DNA. According to historians, Astbury helped establish the field of molecular biology as he connected microscopic changes in the structure of materials to changes in their large-scale properties.
“Use of reproductive technology for sex selection for nonmedical reasons” (2015), by the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine
In June 2015, the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, or ASRM, published “Use of reproductive technology
for sex selection for nonmedical reasons” in Fertility and Sterility
. In the report, the Committee presents arguments for and against the use of reproductive technology
for sex selection for any reason besides avoiding sex-linked disorders, or genetic disorders that only affect a particular sex.
Plowman v. Fort Madison Community Hospital (2017)
In June 2017, the Iowa Supreme Court decided the case Plowman v. Fort Madison Community Hospital
, or Plowman v. FMCH
, and ruled that women who gave birth to children with severe disabilities could sue for wrongful birth
in Iowa. Specifically, after Plowman v. FMCH
, a woman could sue for wrongful birth
if she believed that her physicians failed to disclose evidence of fetal abnormalities that may have prompted her to terminate the pregnancy
The Use of Morphine and Scopolamine to Induce Twilight Sleep
In 1907, researchers Bernhardt Kronig and Carl Gauss combined the drugs morphine and scopolamine to induce twilight sleep in women during childbirth. Physicians in the early twentieth century in Germany used twilight sleep, Dammerschlaf
, to cause women to enter a state of consciousness in which they felt no pain and did not remember giving birth. Twilight sleep was associated with increased use of forceps during delivery, prolonged labor, and increased risk of infant suffocation. Because of those disadvantages, physicians stopped using morphine and scopolamine to prevent pain during childbirth. Morphine and scopolamine were among the first anesthetics to be used during childbirth, and after physicians stopped using them, researchers searched for safer alternatives.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule (2014)
In 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration
published the Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule to amend previous guidelines for the prescription of drugs for pregnant and lactating women. The 2014 Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule was intended to increase the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs by making drug labels easier for physicians to understand and utilize. The Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule restructured drug labels and required that they include narratives describing drug-associated risks to women and fetuses, rather than using complicated letter categories.
Alfred Day Hershey (1908–1997)
During the twentieth century in the United States, Alfred Day Hershey studied phages, or viruses that infect bacteria, and experimentally verified that genes
were made of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. Genes are molecular, heritable instructions for how an organism develops. When Hershey started to study phages, scientists did not know if phages contained genes
, or whether genes
were made of DNA or protein. In 1952, Hershey and his research assistant, Martha Chase, conducted phage experiments that convinced scientists that genes
were made of DNA.