Mark Segebart didn’t retreat from the questions.
The Republican State Senate hopeful charged
forward with a pro-life stance into what is
generally nervous territory for candidates with
If abortion is criminalized once again in Iowa,
what should the penalty be for women who have
abortions and doctors who perform the procedures?
“My view of the woman who needs to have an abortion
is that she’s a victim,” Segebart said in an
interview. “The baby is a victim because it’s
being aborted. The woman, I think, is a victim
of society in that society has led women to
believe that there’s nothing wrong with abortion
in the first place. Society has become numb
to that fact over the last almost 40 years now.”
So a woman can hire a doctor to kill her baby
and be fine, or at least free of prison time,
in Segebart’s construct. But if she pays an
assassin to deep-six her husband because she
doesn’t want to go through a divorce, she should
go to prison? Why is there a difference? Babies
and husbands are both people.
“Again, the guilty party is not the woman,”
Segebart said of abortion. “It’s the system.
It’s our whole system here that says it was
legal to do it for the last 40 years. That was
a false premise, in my mind, because the liberals
and the women’s movement sold that idea that
it was a fetus and not a baby. So they’re victims.
The mother is a victim just like the child is
a victim in an abortion. So to penalize that
woman, because she’s bought into a false premise,
I don’t think is fair.”
As for the doctor …
“If it’s illegal to have an abortion, and the
doctor performs it, I think there should be
a penalty there,” Segebart said.
A fine, or should the physician be imprisoned?
“It probably requires prison,” Segebart said.
“The doctor went to school to save lives, not
Segebart, a Vail-area farmer and Crawford County
supervisor, is running in a three-way Republican
primary for Iowa Senate District 6, a wide swath
of political territory in western Iowa, where
GOP candidates can’t get out of park without
expressing pro-life views with conviction.
But when you can get the candidates past “I’m
pro-life,” matters become more challenging.
Why hold women harmless in the abortion decision
as Segebart advocates? It’s an awfully paternalistic
attitude to take, one that suggests women somehow
don’t possess the rational faculties of mind
to avoid murdering someone, so great is the
societal pressure. It relegates the modern American
woman to a “daddy’s-little-girl” role straight
out of the 1950s.
So I put the question directly to Segebart:
If women are so mentally or morally weak that
they can’t claim responsibility for the decision
to have an abortion, and all the consequences
it entails, the choice of whether a life enters
the world or not, are they capable of making
any life calls of import? If women are so easily
cast in the role of unwitting victim, are they
even intelligent enough to vote? Would we better
off if we repealed that right for women?
“Women are intelligent enough to make the decision,
and so are men,” he said. “Why are women the
only ones that are held responsible here? Half
the problem were the men involved. If that’s
the case, we should probably have the same penalty
for the men that were involved.”
One problem there. Women do have the final say
in an abortion. A husband or boyfriend is simply
in an advisory capacity, albeit one with enormous,
even absolute influence. Legally, though, a
boyfriend cannot compel a woman to have an abortion
simply because he wants to avoid two decades
of child-support payments. That’s been unsuccessfully
Segebart’s reasoning is conservatism turned
on its head and twisted. What happened to personal
responsibility? Society is to blame for murder
so the killer should be absolved?
Would Segebart be of the same mind about an
African-American man or Native American who
sought refuge behind a claim of historical racism
after stealing groceries as in, “I can’t get
a job because of this racist society.”
Of course not.
Society sends mixed signals about motherhood.
In some corners, it is celebrated as the most
worthy contribution to humanity. In others,
it is diminished as a career-track derailer.
Women can decide for themselves whether they
want to celebrate Mothers Days or have some
extra Sundays as single gals to go shoe shopping
or study for the bar exam. Except in Mark Segebart’s
world, where doctors and the liberals and other
factors weigh too heavily on the gentler gender.
So women kill their babies because they don’t
know better or can’t help themselves. Poor little
One other thought: What if the abortion doctor
is a woman? Is she a victim, too? CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.