The New York Times is running an article about Dennis Miller -- mostly about his new show -- and includes the following quote:
Mr. Miller said he remained socially liberal. "I think abortion's wrong, but it's none of my business to tell somebody what's wrong," he said. "So I'm pro-choice. I want to keep my nose out of other people's personal business. ..."I generally like Mr. Miller a lot, and agree with him on many issues, but I'd like to use this quote of an example of the contradictory view that many Americans have of abortion. Mr. Miller thinks abortion is wrong, but he doesn't want to prevent it. On the surface that sounds ok -- I think getting addicted to drugs and alcohol is wrong, but I don't think the War on Drugs is doing much good.
However, most people don't seem to understand the fundamental difference between "live and let live" issues and abortion. Why does Mr. Miller think abortions (of convenience) are wrong at all? Either he sees them as the taking of a life (that needs to be justified), or not. If he doesn't see abortion as taking a life, then why is it even mildly wrong? If he does see abortion as killing, then why wouldn't he be in favor of laws putting the same justification requirements on abortion as exist for all other sorts of killing? Killing and murder aren't the same thing, and there are lots of reasons why it can be acceptable to kill someone (self-defense, for instance). Why not restrict abortion in the exact same manner as we restrict other forms of killing?
Mr. Miller's confused perspective isn't at all unique to him. The fundamental difference between "live and let live" crimes and abortion is that the first are "victimless", while the whole controversy of abortion is based around the question of whether or not there is a victim. If unborn babies are not people, then there's no victim, and there's no reason to restrict abortions at all. On the other hand, if unborn babies are people, then they should be protected to the same degree we ourselves are.