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Deakin Anthropology Seminar – Conceiving Christian America: reproductive politics of embryo adoption

Deakin Anthropology Seminar – Conceiving Christian America: reproductive politics of embryo adoption

Event Venue:



The US Christian Right, well known for its opposition to abortion, is strategically interfacing with assisted reproductive technologies to advance Christian nationalist ambitions. Launched in 1997 at an evangelical Christian adoption agency, embryo adoption aims to “save” what supporters contend are unborn children through a form of third-party reproduction that facilitates the donation of frozen IVF embryos through an adoption-like process to recipients who plan to gestate and parent any children born. While a 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 in Dobbs. Drawing on six years of ethnographic research within embryo adoption programs and 150 interviews with staff, participants, and supporters, this talk explores how “saving embryos” is a a proxy for realizing the Religious Right’s broader political goals. By tracing the story of the first family forged through embryo adoption, over decades of advocacy including their appeal to US Supreme Court in Dobbs, this talk shows how embryo adoption became part of the Christian Right’s pro-life political playbook for creating a Christian nation, and makes a case being way of saviorism in all of its forms. 

Speaker Details

Risa Cromer is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University. An anthropologist of biomedicine, science, and technology, her research investigates social justice issues within bioethical controversies concerning reproduction, race, and disability. She is currently collaborating on an ethnographic project about red state reproduction, which traces the effects post-Dobbs antiabortion policies across reproductive health care.

Additional Details

Our speaker will be presenting via Zoom and will feature Deakin Distinguished Professor Emma Kowal as discussant: 

Meeting ID: 843 1950 8697 

Passcode: 95604247 

Staff, HDRs and students are all welcome. 

Any inquiries please contact David Giles or Timothy Neale 

This event is sponsored by the Deakin Science and Society Network.


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