Ok, ok... I have a friend that I go round and round with. She tells me you can not be against abortion on a personal level, yet on a political level support choice. I still stand by my argument that a person can and I do.
I can understand the reasoning behind a 'yes' answer to the question in the title bar of this post. It fits in (hypothetically) with my libertarian politics. For example, I believe that idolatry is immoral, but should not be illegal. I believe that homosexual conduct is immoral, but should not be illegal. I believe that smoking is immoral, but should not be illegal. I believe that using marijuana is immoral, but should not be illegal. No action should be illegal which harms only those who consent to the action.
Following this thread, I think that an unborn child is a human life and that abortion does not acquire the consent of all of the affected people, namely the child. It is, therefore, the deliberate, non-consensual killing of a person, i.e. murder.
I also believe that the state has only a few legitimate functions:
1. Protect citizens from crime.
2. Protect citizens from invasion.
3. Enforce contracts between citizens.
Abortion, being murder, would fit into category 1, and is therefore a legitimate concern of the state.
So, assuming that one holds:
1. That abortion takes a human life without consent
2. And that one purpose of the state is to prevent non-consensual harm
...then one cannot morally reject abortion but support its legality.
UPDATE: On the rape/incest exception: I don't support it because of Assumption 1. The unborn child is still an innocent human life. S/he has done nothing to merit death because of his/her origins. The mother deserves our compassion, love, and assistance, but not our permission to kill a child.
Also: Henry Neufeld responds:
Frankly, I think John has left out most of the logic on this one. Hidden assumptions lumber through this like elephants, just begging someone to see them. One may, for example, simply disagree with the idea that the state always has a duty to accomplish the goals John states.
Wow. He's a lot more libertarian than I am.