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Reproductive InjusticeRacism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth$
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Dana-Ain Davis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479812271

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479812271.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 12 June 2021

Saving the Babies

Saving the Babies

(p.121) 4 Saving the Babies
Reproductive Injustice

Dána-Ain Davis

NYU Press

In the nineteenth century, the United States began to address its embarrassingly high rates of infant and maternal mortality, and later premature birth rates, in earnest. Those efforts have often been racially disparate. Using a critical racial lens, this chapter explores the uneven racial outcomes of the technologies of saving, or strategies used to save infants and mothers. A number of programs, policies, and scientific advancements, including the development of NICUs, have facilitated the development of saving interventions. The exploration of saving begins with the founding of the Children’s Bureau in 1912 and the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1916 and concludes with the use of NICUs. This chapter shows that the interventions have not been as successful for Black as for white infants and mothers, once again illustrating the racial politics of reproduction. Special consideration is given to the critique of NICU technology, about which both medical and public health professionals raise questions concerning how NICUs overshadow other forms of addressing prematurity.

Keywords:   Children’s Bureau, Baby Doe rules, technologies of saving, racial politics, Sheppard-Towner Act

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