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Political Mercury

May 24, 2012
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By Republican candidate’s logic, women shouldn’t even be allowed to vote

By Douglas Burns

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 his views.

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 take them.”

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 challenged.

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 things.

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.

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