But which words does Akin regret?
Akin said (at least) two regrettable things in that fateful interview. He tried to draw a distinction between “legitimate rape” and some unnamed alternative; not clear whether he intended to minimize the seriousness of any rape not involving explicit violence or instead to imply that women systematically falsify rape accusations, or would do so if abortion were banned but with a rape exception. (Of course he could have meant both things.)
But Akin also offered a bit of grossly false biology: that (according to “doctors”) “the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down,” meaning that pregnancy rarely if ever results from “legitimate rape.”
I can understand the claim that “legitimate rape” was a slip of the tongue, though Akin’s record casts doubt on that interpretation. But what about the biological claim? That could hardly have been a mere “mis-speaking,” except in the sense that Akin wishes he’d only said it to a purely RTL audience rather than putting it out there for the whole world to marvel at. He was quoting a well-worn bit of Christianist bullsh*t. Did he believe it when he said it? If so, what has caused him to change his mind? Did the imaginary “doctors” correct themselves?
Of course what really happened is that the firestorm made Akin aware that he couldn’t get away with this stuff, now that he’s playing in the big leagues. So he took it back, just as he might take back some policy position that his pollsters found the voters weren’t buying.
That’s what I mean when I say the GOP fringe has gone Postmodern. To someone like Akin, or Huckabee, everything is contestable, and it makes perfect sense to change your mind about natural phenomena on the same basis you’d change your mind about proposed legislation. Since the apparently scientific claim wasn’t intended to be true in the first place, but merely to score political points, there’s no reason not to adopt, or pretend to adopt, new biology with every change in the political winds.