Akin’s efforts to defend the prolife view had the opposite effect, by feeding the (entirely unfair) narrative that pro-lifers are ignorant of and callous toward women’s true needs. The abortion debate is one between decent people with honest disagreements on the moral status of the unborn, not of women.
Of course, speaking so ineptly as to seem to suggest that rape victims could block conception just by resisting, is dangerously close to implying that the victim is responsible when pregnancy does occur: hence a third source of outrage at Akin's words.
And this, finally, gives rise to another implication, which should especially trouble pro-lifers. Whatever one’s ultimate view of a rape exception to laws protecting the unborn, no remotely plausible case against such an exception could rest on assumptions about the mother (as Akin’s seems to do), rather than beliefs about the unborn child's rights. Some social conservatives, including Mitt Romney, would allow an exception; others would not. But what all pro-lifers seek, and what Akin's comments make harder to realize, is a world in which there is finally no zero-sum game between mothers' needs and those of their unborn children; in which the equal dignity of every human being — including the smallest and weakest — isn’t premised on blaming or punishing women, or indeed on anything else, but shines by its own light, as a self-evident truth.