The best way to argue with a Todd Akin is to dismiss him as a chauvinist, a creep and the enemy of a more enlightened future. But the best pro-choice rebuttal to the young idealists at the March for Life or the professional women who lead today’s anti-abortion groups isn’t that they’re too reactionary — it’s that they’re too utopian, too radical, too naïve.

This means that the abortion rights movement, once utopian in its own fashion, is now at its most effective when it speaks the language of necessary evils, warning Americans that while it might be pretty to think so, the equality they take for granted simply can’t be separated from a practice they find troubling.

For its part, if the pro-life movement wants not only to endure but to triumph, then it needs an answer to this argument. That means something more than just a defense of a universal right to life. It means a realist’s explanation of how, in policy and culture, the feminist revolution could be reformed without being repealed.