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The Fertility Doctor

John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution

Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner

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As Louise Brown—the first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization—celebrates her 30th birthday, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner tell the fascinating story of the man who first showed that human in vitro fertilization was possible.

John Rock spent his career studying human reproduction. The first researcher to fertilize a human egg in vitro in the 1940s, he became the nation’s leading figure in the treatment of infertility, his clinic serving rich and poor alike. In the 1950s he joined forces with Gregory Pincus to develop oral contraceptives and in the 1960s enjoyed international celebrity for\u2026

As Louise Brown—the first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization—celebrates her 30th birthday, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner tell the fascinating story of the man who first showed that human in vitro fertilization was possible.

John Rock spent his career studying human reproduction. The first researcher to fertilize a human egg in vitro in the 1940s, he became the nation’s leading figure in the treatment of infertility, his clinic serving rich and poor alike. In the 1950s he joined forces with Gregory Pincus to develop oral contraceptives and in the 1960s enjoyed international celebrity for his promotion of the pill and his campaign to persuade the Catholic Church to accept it.

Rock became a more controversial figure by the 1970s, as conservative Christians argued that his embryo studies were immoral and feminist activists contended that he had taken advantage of the clinic patients who had participated in these studies as research subjects.

Marsh and Ronner’s nuanced account sheds light on the man behind the brilliant career. They tell the story of a directionless young man, a saloon keeper’s son, who began his working life as a timekeeper on a Guatemalan banana plantation and later became one of the most recognized figures of the twentieth century. They portray his medical practice from the perspective of his patients, who ranged from the wives of laborers to Hollywood film stars.

The first scholars to have access to Rock’s personal papers, Marsh and Ronner offer a compelling look at a man whose work defined the reproductive revolution, with its dual developments in contraception and technologically assisted conception.

Reviews

Reviews

The authors bring a man and a century to life as they recount two primary discoveries underlying women's still controversial reproductive rights.

The Fertility Doctor provides a balanced portrait of a twentieth-century medical giant... They [Marsh and Ronner] deal deftly too with with the ironies that marked Rock's long career.

This book will hold an important place in the archives of reproductive medicine.

Eminently readable... It gives an excellent account of his Boston Irish Catholic family background, his childhood, and his psychological maturation.

Marsh and Ronner have written what is undoubtedly the most thorough and wide-ranging account we have yet on Rock's career and life.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
384
ISBN
9780801890017
Illustration Description
20 halftones
Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Family Matters
2. Choosing Medicine, Coming of Age
3. New Discoveries in Human Reproduction
4. Firing the First Shot in the Reproductive Revolution
5. The World of the Patients
6. The

Introduction
1. Family Matters
2. Choosing Medicine, Coming of Age
3. New Discoveries in Human Reproduction
4. Firing the First Shot in the Reproductive Revolution
5. The World of the Patients
6. The Fertility Doctor Meets the Pill
7. The Era of the Pill Begins
8. The Face and Voice of the Pill
9. The Pill Falls from Grace
10. A True Visionary
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Margaret Marsh

Margaret Marsh is a university professor of history at Rutgers University.
Featured Contributor

Wanda Ronner, M.D.

Wanda Ronner is a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. They are the authors of The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present and The Fertility Doctor: John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution.