Just to add further fuel to the fire of Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” and abortion, it turns out that the doctor whose opinions formed the basis of those comments was a Mitt Romney surrogate during his last run for the Presidency, and according to the Telegraph (UK), spoke to Romney as recently as last year.

Mitt Romney met John Willke, the doctor credited with popularising Todd Akin’s controversial views on rape and abortion, during the current election campaign and told him they agreed on “almost everything,” Dr Willke said.

The 87-year-old endorsed Mr Romney’s bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and was one of his official campaign surrogates. ”I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement,” Mr Romney said at the time [...]

However, Dr Willke told The Daily Telegraph that he did meet Mr Romney during a presidential primary campaign stop in the doctor’s home city of Cincinnati, Ohio, in October last year. Local news reports at the time noted that the candidate held “private meetings” during the visit.

“He told me ‘thank you for your support – we agree on almost everything, and if I am elected President I will make some major pro-life pronouncements’,” Dr Willke said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Willke has played no role in Romney’s 2012 campaign. But that’s really beside the point. Anyone trying to lead the modern Republican Party will need the benefit of support from the anti-choice movement. Willke, the founder of Christian Life Resources, is one of the leaders of that movement. So of course a Republican nominee would have contact with him. And of course Republicans would edge toward the maximalist viewpoint on abortion, without restrictions or exemptions. Any nominee for President will eventually agree with that viewpoint. That’s why it landed in the Republican platform, a fact which GOP operatives are desperately trying to squirm away from.

Incidentally, fighting on the terrain of exemptions from an abortion ban for rape or incest kind of means that Democrats have already lost this fight. Highlighting exemptions equals giving in on the principle of the abortion ban itself. All women, whether rape survivors or incest victims or anyone else, should have the right to dictate their own medical care and choose to have whatever legal medical procedures they wish. Democrats play this game of highlighting the extreme views of the opposition party, and it makes sense at some level. But it also pushes the conversation very far to the right. It resembles this obsession over millionaire’s taxes, trying to display the lengths to which Republicans will go to protect the wealthy, without circling back to the broader principle of the need for broader taxation to fulfill the needs of society. The US collects some of the lowest tax revenues in the entire industrialized world, and the constant framing of the tax issue higher and higher up the income ladder plays a role there. It’s the same with abortion laws: framing the issue about rape or incest exemptions gives away almost the entire playing field.