Fetal labor

A Missouri committee believes illegal immigrants are in high demand because we keep aborting all the potential U.S. workers. Seriously.

Published November 14, 2006 12:30PM (EST)

Holy crazy Republican legislators from Missouri, Batman!

Sit down, this one's going to blow your mind: According to the Associated Press, a 16-member Missouri legislative panel has submitted a report asserting that the U.S. has created a market for illegal immigrants by aborting all the Americans who would otherwise have held their jobs.

The report, from the state's House Special Committee on Immigration Reform, is so embarrassing that none of the six Democrats on the panel would sign their name to it, though all 10 Republicans did.

The report also includes the claim that "liberal social welfare policies" keep government aid recipients living so high on the hog that they are unmotivated to get jobs, again creating a vacuum that pulls illegal immigrants across the border to work in terrible conditions for pennies an hour in their place.

The abortion-and-welfare stuff was written into the report by Rep. Ed Emery, the committee chairman. "The lack of traditional work ethic, combined with the effects of 30 years of abortion and expanding liberal social welfare policies, have produced a shortage of workers and a lack of incentive for those who can work," the report reads.

And Emery helpfully expanded on this for the AP, telling it, "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 ... You don't have to think too long. If you kill 44 million of your potential workers [the National Right to Life statistic on how many abortions have been performed since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973], it's not too surprising we would be desperate for workers."

But maybe Emery should try thinking a little longer. One problem we're not facing in the United States? A population decline. On Oct. 17, the population hit 300,000,001. The fertility rate in the United States is 2.13 babies per mother, higher than the stable population replacement rate of 2.1 babies. Of course, many of those 2.13 babies are born to illegal immigrant mothers, but at least as of now, they still count as Americans -- and by Emery's calculations, as potential future laborers.

But here are some problems we do face: Energy and environmental crises brought on by the astronomically high use by Americans of fossil fuels, forests, water, fisheries and other natural resources. Education and healthcare systems that are not exactly well-equipped to care for the 300 million we've got right now, let alone the other "44 million" that -- had they not been terminated as fetuses -- would no doubt be chomping at the bit to do manual labor in crappy conditions for criminally low salaries.

Broadsheet contributor Farhad Manjoo also points out that the U.S. infant mortality rate is around six deaths per thousand, while in Mexico it's about 20 per thousand, so that "by coming to America, immigrants vastly increase the likelihood that their future 'unborn' children will survive infancy. If [Emery] really cared about the unborn, he wouldn't doom them to getting born in Mexico or other foreign lands. They'd be much better off being born here in the U.S."

As Missouri Democratic Rep. Trent Skaggs told the AP, "To be honest, I think [the report] is a little delusional." Yeah, maybe a little around the edges.

These clowns should grab dinner with Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, authors of Freakonomics, who observed in their book that crime began to fall in the United States about 18 years after the Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade, and that furthermore, it fell three years earlier in the five states that legalized abortion three years before Roe. Basing their hypothesis on this pattern, Levitt and Dubner asserted that the legalization of abortion was behind the huge drop in crime in the early 1990s.

So all those unintended, unwanted pregnancies might have produced underpaid laborers, sure. Or maybe a bunch of workforce-age adults sitting in the slammer. Or maybe it doesn't matter. Because we have puh-lenty of Americans as it is, women should be able to control what goes on in their own bodies, and if nothing else, reports like this offer an opportunity to remember that every child in this country should be a wanted one.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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