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Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr., who turns 102 on Sunday, is celebrating the publication of his latest book.
Bill Tiernan/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 12/28/2012
Jones called the legislation, which passed the House but not the Senate, "a naive expression based on a failure to understand the biology involved." He stepped up the pace of the work on his book after that, believing the theme of personhood would be relevant in today's politics.
The book that recently went on the market, published by Langdon Street Press, recounts in-vitro fertilization's history, and the controversy that ensued when he and his wife brought the technique to Norfolk, making the city front and center in a national debate. Protesters said the scientists were playing God and questioned what would be done with unused embryos.
The Joneses had their supporters, though, and, in one instance, medical students took up so many of the seats at a hearing about the technique that protesters had few places left to sit.
In his book, Jones writes: "At the time of the birth of our first baby, Elizabeth Carr, in December of 1981, the leader of the opposition, Mr. Charles Dean, paraded in front of the hospital with a sandwich board saying, 'see me for the truth,' and he was distributing pamphlets describing the terrible things that were being done."
Jones also writes about the invitation extended to him and his wife by the Vatican in 1984 to discuss the moral implications of the procedure, which the Catholic church opposes.
Most of his books are scientific in nature, but he's recently tried his hand at a more general audience. For instance, in 2004, he published "War and Love: A Surgeon's Memoir of Battlefield Medicine with Letters to and from Home." The book described his years as a surgeon during World War II through letters he wrote to his endocrinologist wife.
Jones has always managed to be on the cutting edge of science and debate. At Johns Hopkins in 1951, he was the first doctor to treat Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cancerous cervix led to an immortal cell line for medical research, written about by Rebecca Skloot in "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." In the 1960s, he worked alongside British scientist Robert Edwards, who helped create the world's first test-tube baby in England in 1978 and was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine in 2010.