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Damning Delusions on Abortion and Immigration

There are strong inconsistencies in the way many conservatives think and talk about the two biggest ‘social’ issues facing America today: abortion and immigration. It’s all obscured, since these words rarely share the same breath. But even a little reflection produces certain clear paradoxes.

Of course, there are many good reasons to oppose both unchecked immigration and abortion; these are mostly obvious. Yet when developed full circle, some of these reasons—and their corollary circumstances—stand at odds with one another. Here are a few things to think about:

a) If abortion were totally outlawed, the number of low-class minorities would skyrocket. This would involve a far greater magnitude of new Americans each year than unchecked immigration / amnesty could reasonably produce. Even if the permissive effect of abortion were to wear off (i.e., if the unavailability of abortion made casual sex and conception less likely), the number of new poverty-stricken Americans would still outperform their better-off counterparts by a noticeable margin.

b) The accepted tactic of pro-life Americans to fund crisis pregnancy centers is admirable, especially as it addresses the root of a serious social and humanitarian problem on personal terms, without multiplying bureaucracies. Yet crisis pregnancy centers—which mostly scrape to get by as it is—are not a viable long-term solution in a scenario where the total number of crisis pregnancies is not vastly checked by legal abortion. To think otherwise would be to presume that the sheer volume of endangered lives on American soil would spontaneously produce greater levels of public charity to accommodate.

c) At large, the people most likely to sympathize openly with unchecked immigrants are those most likely also to endorse free, legal abortion. The people least likely to sympathize openly with unchecked immigrants are those most likely also to endorse limited or entirely illegal abortion. Each of these positions hinges on a reading of personal self-determination that prioritizes the right to make a less-than-desirable decision (i.e., selecting abortion over pregnancy; turning away the poor and itinerant) in order to preserve proper order (i.e., controlled population / integral personal domain; secure borders). The further idea is that each position facilitates authentic charity (i.e., welcoming the downtrodden; welcoming the unborn); but in neither case is practical success widespread, let alone sustainable.

d) There is no natural difference in the right to self-determination that produces both a boom in low-income, domestic minority populations and low-income, foreign minority populations. The difference is civic and political, entirely. That is to say, it is preferential.

These are just a few examples; there are certainly many more. Do any of these invalidate particular reasons for or against looser immigration or abortion access? No. What they do show, quite simply, is a myopic tendency on either end of  the ‘social justice’ continuum toward internal inconsistency and a lack of “moral imagination.” In a word, how can we hope to guess at right order in the soul and in the commonwealth when our most basic political convictions stand at odds with what should be our most basic natural ones? To put it differently, if taking responsibility for endangered human life is a natural moral good, why should our exercise of this responsibility be based entirely on mere preference? And what sort of damning delusion occurs when our preference is based not on a high probability for practical success, but instead on simple circumstance?


Readers are invited to discuss essays in argumentative and fraternal charity, and are asked to help build up the community of thought and pursuit of truth that Ethika Politika strives to accomplish, which includes correction when necessary. The editors reserve the right to remove comments that do not meet these criteria and/or do not pertain to the subject of the essay.

  • Aaron Taylor

    Excellent piece.

  • Mary Ann

    All I see here is conjecture on your part. I see no statistics to bolster your position. You also assume that people who are anti abortion also hold the position of having open borders, which is an baseless assumption on your part. So is your speculation that no abortions equals a dramatic rise in the poor population. You should truly consider adding some fact to your fiction.

    • Art

      I think if you drag out the stats you will see that the abortions are heavily in minority populations.

  • Jason Suggs

    Actually, if we didnt have legal abortion here, our birthrate would be higher, and there wouldnt be space in our economy to absorb the new immigrants. Missing 50 million ppl means we have to have immigration. Here in the midwest, many small towns would be deserted completely, but immigration has made them bustling young communities.

  • Brady Steele

    Andrew, may I add a point in regards to Personhood? Establishing the rights of person at conception may be uniquely difficult in the United States both legally and as a culture. We believe our rights come from our Creator but we also have special emphasis on natural birth rights in our Constitution. In other words, is a person an American citizen because there were born here or because they were conceived here?

  • Mags

    I am pro-life and against ILLEGAL and unchecked immigration, not against legal immigration. I, and most others who are pro-life, respect life from conception to natural death, so I don’t know where you got your idea that we do not respect the lives coming into our country. The churches, not the government, has stepped up to help those stuck in our current nightmare at the borders. But, if abortion were illegal, I believe that people would figure out a way to be responsible for themselves and not get pregnant as often (50% of abortions are performed on women who have had at least one abortion already.) The pregnancy crisis centers that I know of are not struggling for funding. And people have always stepped up when money is needed – look at how giving increased when the economy tanked. Also, the government funding that is given to Planned Parenthood – $350 million – could be diverted to the pregnancy centers. That being said, I believe once the culture of life replaces the culture of death that we currently have, I see our time and energy and resources being spent on education, employment, skills training – all those things that would help these folks you claim will over-burden our society. When our government and those in it value life, we will see a change for good. (I know, I’m a cock-eyed optimist, but I believe our humanity, ever present but many times not obvious, will triumph.)

  • There is a lot of inconsistency among many at various points in the political spectrum. Personally I am pro-life on abortion and on all issues of violence, and I support being hospitable to those fleeing dire situations wherever instead of the major barriers we impose on people like many of our ancestors. It is ironic that most of the critics of “illegal immigrants” are descendants of those who came to North America without any permission from the Native American nations which existed here before the invasion of hordes from Europe.

    Also note there are voices of consistency on peace and social justice issues, like Consistent Life