There’s no Limit to Natalism

Tip of the hat to Zuzu: a legislative panel in Missouri asserts that the United States has an illegal immigration problem because women have abortions. When I talk about a liberal fusion of various movements – feminism, antiracism, etc. – I like to compare that with conservatism, which has no trouble combining sexism, racism, wishful thinking, general ignorance of reality, and pro-poverty apologetics in one report.

[Link] A Republican-led legislative panel says in a new report on illegal immigration that abortion is partly to blame because it is causing a shortage of American workers.

The report from the state House Special Committee on Immigration Reform also says that “liberal social welfare policies” have discouraged Americans from working and have encouraged immigrants to cross the border illegally.

If that were true, we’d see a sharp reduction in levels of illegal immigration following welfare reform or any of a number of anti-immigrant measures similar in tone to California’s Proposition 187. In fact, we don’t; the strongest correlates of illegal immigration from Mexico to the US are the Mexican poverty rate and American immigration restrictions (both, even the latter, increase the level of illegal immigration), rather than laws meant to make illegal immigrants’ life harder.

The specifics of the report are even more detached from the real world.

Emery, who equates abortion to murder, defended the assertions.

“We hear a lot of arguments today that the reason that we can’t get serious about our borders is that we are desperate for all these workers,” he said. “You don’t have to think too long. If you kill 44 million of your potential workers, it’s not too surprising we would be desperate for workers.”

National Right to Life estimates that there have been more than 47 million abortions since the Supreme Court established a woman’s right to an abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The immigration report estimates that there are 80,000 fewer Missourians because of abortion, many of whom now would have been in a “highly productive age group for workers.”

What National Right to Life won’t tell you is that the abortion rate didn’t increase that much in 1973. There were plenty of abortions before then, only then they were illegal and unsafe. The actual number of excess abortions since 1973 due to Roe is not even close to 47 million.

Further, even these abortions haven’t necessarily reduced the number of births. Wikipedia quotes the Guttmacher Institute as saying that 25% of abortions in the US result from women wanting to postpone childbirth. In 1987, my mother aborted because she felt she wasn’t ready yet, and then decided she was ready after all and had me; that abortion didn’t reduce Israel’s population.

The actual people who would’ve been born but for Roe vs. Wade are very likely to have grown up very poor, as those born to unwanted pregnancies are liable to be. They’d be overrepresented among criminals and the unemployed, hardly groups of people immigrants take jobs from.

Finally, suppose for argument’s sake that there’s an immigrant in the US because the American who’d have done his job was aborted. So what? From an American economic perspective, there’s no difference between the American and the immigrant. The negative cultural implications of immigration exist, but are invariably overblown. The main difference is that now there is one fewer person in the third world to work 12-hour days and make in a day what illegal immigrants in the US make in two hours.

It’s not that there’s a debate about whether abortion and welfare encourage illegal immigration that the liberals happen to be on the right side on. There is no debate; immigration has been one of the subjects of study of economists and political scientists, whose conclusions are not even close to what the report says.

It’s not evidence or even an evidence-informed hunch that caused the Republicans in the committee to write the report. It’s a bad attempt at blaming women for all of the world’s troubles, no matter how tenuous the connection is. I almost feel bad for these conservatives; in an average post or comment parodying sexist thought I do a better job at arguing for keeping women barefoot, pregnant, and impoverished than they do.


2 Responses to There’s no Limit to Natalism

  1. gordo says:

    I think you’re right about the “reasoning” that went into this:

    I don’t like A.
    I don’t like B.
    Therefore, A and B are related phenomena.

  2. […] highlights a bizarre attempt by the Missouri legislature to link abortion and illegal immigration. Alon Levy not only debunks the legislature’s assumptions, he tells us what’s really behind their […]

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