Liberal pundits are declaring they have no idea what Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) meant when he referred to “legitimate rape” in an interview this past week. Akin stated, "In cases of legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." It was an awkward, inarticulate statement, but the substance of it was correct. Explaining what he meant since then would be a bit crude, so he has not been able to adequately defend himself. His attackers have used the awkwardness to pounce on him and pretend they don't know what he meant, or make up even worse explanations.
Does anyone actually believe his critics? It may have been a poor choice of words, but everyone knows Akin was referring to the distinction between what we traditionally consider rape - forcible rape - versus statutory rape and what some claim is also rape, having sex while drunk. Some women will have a one night stand while drunk, admit it to their friends afterwards, then change their mind and declare that it was rape. The FBI updated its definition of rape this year to include the inability to give consent due to intoxication. Any woman who has been drinking can now claim afterwards that she was raped. This may have opened a Pandora's Box considering how many people drink alcohol before sex. The cliché “rape is rape” no longer means what it says. The definition has now been broadened to include any woman alleging rape after she has been drinking.
As for women's bodies shutting down, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Akin meant that a woman is not going to get aroused if she is forcibly raped, making it difficult to become pregnant. Akin brought this up in order to explain why abortion in case of rape is not necessary. It is very rare that a forcible rape results in a pregnancy, so the issue of whether to permit abortion in the case of rape is mostly a red herring, used for fear mongering. Last week, GOP officials drafting the abortion ban for the party platform, declined to put in an exception for rape or incest. Tellingly, Akin's critics haven't bothered disputing Akin's real message, which is that less than one percent of rapes result in a pregnancy.