There is a certain US Congressman named Todd Akin. Until recently he was completely unknown to me and presumably most of the world outside Missouri, USA but he jumped into a brief, shining moment of prominence by being a gigantic jackass. His quote follows:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
It is relatively clear by this short quote that the good Congressman is both clueless about biology and contemptuous of women. What exactly is 'illegitimate' rape? I presume it is his fantasy in which women who want abortions all falsely claim that they are raped in order to get one; this is generous as the only other likely interpretation is that he is some kind of rape denialist. This is all bad news and a very sorry indictment of the extreme religious right. There is a silver lining though in the response of other right wing religious folk.
Romney called this 'insulting' and 'inexcusable' and he said that 'what he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it'. Given ample opportunity to waffle and suggest that perhaps Akin was misunderstood Romney actually showed some backbone and roundly condemned it. He isn't the only one: The federal GOP pulled Akin's funding and Republicans have rallied against Akin. Obviously there are still plenty of bigots but they can no longer afford to publicly hold these ideas.
That inability to speak is the key. The amount of bigotry that is acceptable from a candidate is ever shrinking and you don't have to go very far back in time before Akin would be wrong but unremarkable. In 2012 this singular remark is considered to be enough to swing an entire state away from the Republicans by itself. Things can and will get better. Too slowly, for certain, but it is important to remember how far we have come.