Racial Futurity: Biolegality and the Question of Black Life

  • Nadine EhlersEmail author
Part of the Biolegalities book series (BIOGA)


This chapter considers how IVF donor insemination technologies can open the possibilities for the denial of black life. It asks: how might the birth of black child to a white mother—by way of donor insemination—be conceived as a “wrongful birth,” as it was in the 2014 Illinois Northern District Court case of Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank? How is it that someone’s race—in this case the blackness of a newborn—can be viewed and used as a measure of injury (against a white parent) for which compensation or legal reparation was demanded? And, lastly, what does this case reflect about the perceived value—or lack thereof—of black life in America and the possibilities of and for racial futurity, understood as the guarantee of life’s continuation? Cramblett squarely placed the question of the valuation of black life before the law, which was used here to adjudicate the personal rights of the mother against her child. In this assessment of biolegality, fundamental questions of the intersections of law, biology, and society are brought into stark relief, highlighting the challenges presented through bioscientific-technological interventions into “life itself.”


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Social PolicyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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