(August 19, 2012 — During his failed Senate campaign, Missouri Representative Todd Akin makes a comment about "legitimate rape", which reveals him to be a time traveler from a conservative future)
Todd Akin — Time Traveler!

It's understandable that Todd Akin's off-the-cuff remarks about "legitimate rape" have finally sparked a backlash against arch-conservative attacks on women's reproductive rights.

But the situation is actually far more offensive than is being addressed by even the harshest critics.

The most straightforward rebuttal to Akin has been to ask "How Legitimate Was My Rape?" with victims of sexual assault pointing out how outrageous it is to try to quantify the "legitimacy" of the crime against them.

But Akin and those like him are not really suggesting that victims of rape should be forced to carry their attacker's zygote to term. That would be inhuman. (Which is why Akin can, with a straight face, follow up his gaffe with an apology that emphasizes that he has a good heart.)

In point of fact, Akin is not really arguing that women who have already been raped should have been denied access to abortion. Because that's been a pitfall for firebrand anti-abortionists, for more than a generation.

In the debate over abortion rights, exceptions in the case of rape or incest have been the line-in-the-sand which even hard core arch-conservatives dare not cross. And with good reason. Because most of their argument is founded on the notion that the sole purpose of sex is reproduction. Ergo, a woman who becomes pregnant after sexual intercourse, even in cases where she may have been inebriated or otherwise exercising poor judgment, had to have known that the sex she was having could lead to pregnancy and so on some level, even if it was only subliminally, she must have known or should have known or could have known that her actions might have led to pregnancy. And therefore, on some level, she must have wanted a child.

Of course, the fly in that ointment is that even conservatives are forced to admit that that no woman has ever chosen to engage in an act of forcible rape in the hope of becoming a parent.

And unfortunately, for the anti-choice movement, once you concede that it's possible that a woman did not choose to become pregnant in those extreme cases, you have to start considering other less extreme situations such as incest or date rape, or coerced sex, or failed birth control. And that's a long and slippery slope to simply letting a woman decide for herself when she wants to have a baby.

So somehow the "reasonable" exception in the case of rape and incest has to be disposed of because it might lead to further reasoning and studies have shown that very few conservative ideas hold up under the scrutiny of rational thought.

Thus a new line of thinking has emerged which skips past all rational discussion and time travels ahead to a hypothetical reality where abortion has already been illegalized and legislates from there.

So when Todd Akin and his ilk talk about "legitimate rape" they're not really disparaging any of the women today who have been raped. They are looking forward to a future in which they have already succeeded in illegalizing abortion in all cases.

And in that hypothetical reality, if you make the tragic mistake of allowing an exception for the unfortunate victims of sex crimes, then any woman who wants an abortion will simply lie and say she was raped in order to get one. And then society will be faced with the unpleasant task of having to determine which rapes are legitimate and which rapes are fraudulent.

And most horrifyingly to those of us who are not time travelers, this creates a future where for the sake of her potential embryo a victim of rape must always be presumed guilty (of attempted murder, no less) until she can prove herself innocent.

(And in a world where every woman is a probable murderess, do we really need to treat any of them with respect?)

This is the future that Republicans are hinting at when they talk about "legitimate rape". And most significantly, it is a future that they aspire to.

"Todd Akin — Time Traveler"
by Jeff Goode, copyright © 2012