Cracked babies and the partial birth of a nation: Millennialism and fetal citizenship

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13 Scopus citations


This essay explores whether fetal protection cases concerning 'partial birth' and 'crack babies' reflect an undercurrent of millennialism that characterizes anti-abortion violence. Because the dichotomized millennialist worldview of pure and impure domains easily corroborates racialist ideas that there are pure and impure races, discussions of fetal protection may also accommodate race-specific assumptions or implications. Fetuses involved in 'partial birth' abortions are routinely portrayed as purely innocent, whole, and intact babies worthy of the privileges of citizenship that will save them from death. But 'crack babies', who are explicitly presumed to be black, are routinely portrayed as impure, tainted, and polluted babies who are a liability to society and from whom the tax-paying citizenry should be saved. Viewed comparatively, these legal disputes may be seen as unwittingly reinscribing the racialist tenets of far-right groups that consider abortion to be the apocalyptic end times of white America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-60
Number of pages26
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000


  • Abortion
  • Citizenship
  • Crack (or crack babies)
  • Fetal protection
  • Millennialism
  • Race (or white supremacy)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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