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?