Northwestern Events Calendar


Risa Cromer - Conceiving Christian America: Reproductive Politics of Embryo Adoption

recurring see all events in this series

When: Thursday, January 18, 2024
12:00 PM - 12:45 PM CT

Where: Robert H Lurie Medical Research Center, 1st floor/Searle Room, 303 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE - must register to attend online

Contact: Myria Knox   (312) 503-7962

Group: Medical Humanities & Bioethics Lunchtime Montgomery Lectures

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings


The Master of Arts in Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program


A Montgomery Lecture


Risa Cromer, PhD
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN

Conceiving Christian America:
Reproductive Politics of Embryo Adoption

The U.S. Christian Right, well known for its opposition to abortion, has strategically interfaced with assisted reproductive technologies through the practice of embryo adoption to advance its nationalist political ambitions. Embryo adoption is a form of third-party reproduction that facilitates the donation of frozen embryos made through in vitro fertilization through an adoption-like process to recipients who plan to gestate and parent any children born. Launched in 1997 at an evangelical Christian adoption agency, embryo adoption aims to “save” what supporters contend are unborn children. Drawing on six years of ethnographic research within embryo adoption programs and 150 interviews with staff, participants, and supporters—the majority of whom identify as white pro-life evangelicals—this talk explores how saving embryos operates as a proxy for realizing the religious right’s ambitious goals. While a comparatively niche offering within the robust US fertility market, embryo adoption has played an outsized role in national politics for over a quarter of a century, from high-profile battles over public investment in stem cell research to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. By tracing the story of the first family forged through embryo adoption, over decades of advocacy for embryo saviorism to their appeal to US Supreme Court in the Dobbs case, this talk demonstrates how embryo adoption became part of the Christian Right’s pro-life political playbook for realizing a Christian nation.

This lecture is open to the public and will be held in the Searle Seminar Room in the Lurie Research Building (303 E Superior), Chicago Campus. For those outside the Chicago area and anyone who would prefer to attend remotely, a Zoom option is also available.


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