Much of this conversation about "legitimate" or "forcible" rape is really about abortion: trying to convince women that they should never terminate a pregnancy -- even if that pregnancy is the result of non-consensual sex -- and trying to actually redefine "rape" legally to decrease the number of women eligible for rape exceptions to abortion bans.
For a window into this worldview, check out what Mike Huckabee said on his radio program yesterday, to which he had invited Todd Akin in an effort to rehabilitate the Senate candidate. The L.A. Times reports:
The former Arkansas governor and onetime GOP presidential contender suggested a couple of cases in which he suggested that rapes, though “horrible tragedies,” had produced admirable human beings.
“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: “I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
So here we had Todd Akin at first suggesting women can't get pregnant from rape, and Mike Huckabee responding by basically saying Of course rape victims can get pregnant, but hey, we can all agree that doesn't make abortion okay! This sort of thinking is far outside the mainstream. When pollsters report that most Americans believe abortion should be available in "some" cases, these are among the cases folks are thinking about.
In my view, women ought to have the choice of whether or not to carry any pregnancy to term. But certainly, the existence of admirable people conceived through rape does not negate any individual's choice about whether or not to bear her rapist's child. To suggest it does reveals an extreme position that is very much alive within the GOP, despite party leader's efforts to distance themselves from Akin.