I see it every single day on Twitter: a strange, pervasive need to compare immigration to abortion. Invariably, I will respond, usually to ask why immigration and abortion are once again being compared, as they are completely separate, completely unrelated issues. Both are incredibly divisive issues with major factions in support of and opposing various viewpoints.
As such, I will make an attempt to examine them from a non-partisan standpoint, that is to say completely objectively. Each issue will be spelled out in great detail with all perspectives, and it should be fairly obvious that they are in no way similar.
The issues surrounding “immigration” are usually in regard to illegal immigration. The general perception of illegal immigration is throngs of people swimming across the Rio Grande in the middle of the night. In reality, it likely looks more like people sitting in their living room, choosing to not fly back to their home country as their visa expires. Less exciting, I know.
The other perception I see frequently is that refugees seeking asylum are illegal immigrants. The reality is the exact opposite: asylum is completely legal and refugees seeking it at the border are going about it the right way.
A refugee is an individual who was forced to emigrate due to a social, political, or environmental threat to their life. Most South American refugees are normal people who are fleeing political climates that seek to hurt them. And requesting asylum is the legal way to do this.
It is important to note that those entering the United States legally and choosing to overstay a visa, those who cross the border illegally, and those who come on asylum are largely good people looking for better lives and in some cases running for their lives. Very, very few are rapists, murderers, terrorists, or otherwise criminals aside from those whose crime is being illegally present in the country.
Illegal immigration is illegal (obviously). But the most important thing to note is that the people coming to this country—whether Mexican immigrants illegally crossing the border or Syrian refugees here on asylum or Polish immigrants who overstayed a visa—are generally good people. They want a better life for their families and children.
Abortion is a more divisive issue than immigration by no small margin. The science and theology behind it is widely disputed, so I will not endeavor to promote any one opinion here. Instead, I’ll point outs some simple facts and pros and cons.
First, a definition. Abortion is the action of terminating a pregnancy before it comes to term. This can be at any number of points in the pregnancy but usually occurs in the first trimester. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 1.2% of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy.
Second, a brief and fairly obvious clarification. Those in favor of abortion are commonly referred to as “pro-choice.” They are usually on the left side of the political spectrum, and usually Democrats. Those who oppose abortion are called “pro-life.” They are usually on the political right side of the political spectrum, and usually Republicans. Third, please note that abortion is currently legal in the United States.
Now that that’s out of the way, the baseline arguments for both sides are as follows. The primary argument against abortion is that it is murder. Pro-lifers are noted for the belief that life begins at conception, therefore abortion can be viewed as child murder. This is usually backed by theological beliefs, meaning that more religious individuals are more likely to hold a pro-life stance.
Pro-choice individuals are more likely to believe that a fetus is an extension of the mother until at least the end of the first trimester (many would argue until birth). They are less likely to be religious, meaning that theology plays a minor role in influencing their opinions if it plays one at all.
Rape is probably the most controversial issue that overlaps with abortion. Unfortunately, pregnancies can result from rape. This leaves the woman in a difficult situation. Pro-lifers would generally argue for adoption after birth if the mother cannot raise the child, while pro-choice individuals would obviously proffer abortion as the best option.
Apples and Oranges
Immigration is an issue regarding individuals currently alive and self-sufficient who are looking for a better life. Issues with legality, fear-mongering, a floundering naturalization system, and misconceptions plague the subject, but the point remains. It is an apples topic.
Abortion is an issue regarding deep moral, theological, and scientific questions about the beginnings of life. The individuals in question are, however, most definitely not self-sufficient. Whether they are truly “alive” is up to interpretation and therefore debatable. In any case, it is an oranges topic.
Abortion and immigration are separate issues with different arguments. Stop comparing apples and oranges and let’s approach each issue as it is.