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In vitro fertilization (IVF) refers to an assisted reproductive technology in which individuals attempt to become pregnant and create a family through nontraditional means. Typically performed as treatment for heterosexual, married couples who are unable to conceive children, IVF has been increasingly used by single women and same-sex couples. This entry reviews the cost and steps of the medical procedure while focusing on three controversial issues: (1) the ethics of the technology, (2) access to treatment, and (3) potential risks for children.

Born in 1978, Louise Brown was conceived through IVF and came to be known as the first “test-tube baby.” Since her birth, the reproductive procedure has essentially remained unchanged; however, access to treatment has diversified over the years. For heterosexual, married couples, the ...

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