After the "legitimate rape" comment, Akin loses the propagandist-in-chief:
This is not about a sudden conversion of Sean Hannity into a pro-choicer. It's about the impact of that kind of comment in the culture wars in which the Democrats finally have an advantage, as I wrote last February. The politics of contraception and abortion now work against Republicans as much as for them. Nate Cohn also points out that "undecided voters are disproportionately women, and there’s no question that an overwhelming majority of voters, let alone women, support permitting abortion in instances of rape or incest":
Romney has been saddled with another cultural controversy that risks highlighting issues that the Obama camp thinks could yield gains among socially moderate voters critical to his chances in Colorado and Virginia. The Obama campaign was already spending millions trying to elevate this question in swing states, and the last thing Boston needs is incendiary remarks adding fuel to the fire.
Conservatives of all stripes are urging Akin to drop out. Allahpundit's contribution:
If the game’s on the line in the late innings and your pitcher’s getting shelled, why not go to the pen while you can? Even the Tea Party Express, imagining another Angle/O’Donnell nightmare scenario in November, is unsparing.
Calling for Akin to step aside, The National Review editors write:
[T]his issue offers Democrats a political opportunity, however, it is only a theoretical one: No state is going to ban abortion in the case of rape even if Roe v. Wade is overruled — and even if Akin were elected to the Senate. Everyone knows this.
No they don't. Weigel notes:
In Louisiana, a "trigger law" signed by the state's last Democratic governor would ban all abortions in the state if Roe v. Wade was overruled. In North Dakota, a "personhood" law gives human rights to "any organism with the genome of homo sapiens." In Virginia this year, a new "personhood" bill sailed through the Republican House of Delegates — it got gummed up in the Senate, but that took some doing.
More to the point, 173 co-sponsors, including Paul Ryan, have proposed a bill that would precisely draw a distinction between "rape" and "forcible rape" (a term, by the way, that Akin now says he meant), as Frum pointed out earlier:
Akin's view of abortion—no exception for rape, incest, and life of the mother—is not his belief alone. It is also the view of Rick Santorum, the second-place finisher in the 2012 Republican nomination contest. On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, it became the position of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. It is the stance of Ken Connor, former president of the Family Research Council. Plainly, it is the position of a significant faction within the pro-life movement.
And indeed, it is the view of Paul Ryan. He opposes abortion even in rape cases because he has bought the entire – and radically new – theocon doctrine that a cluster of cells requires all the constitutional protections of a fully adult human being. That is as radical a position as requiring people in a vegetative state to be kept alive for decades on feeding tubes. It is not so much pro-life as neurotically opposed to death. Which is an odd thing for Christians of all people to fear.