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Senator: Women should not vote

9/29/01 The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - A female state senator says if women's suffrage were being voted on today she would not support it, because the 19th Amendment was the start of a decades-long erosion of family values.

"I'm an old-fashioned woman, Senator. Kay O'Connor told The Kansas City Star. "Men should take care of women, and if men were taking care of women (today) "we wouldn't have to vote."

Delores Ftlrtado, co-president of the Johnson County League of Women Voters, had asked the 59 year-old Republican to the league's "Celebrate the Right to Vote" luncheon, and O'Connor responded: "You probably wouldn't want me there because of what I would have to say."

Furtado said she was shocked by O'Connor's view. As a state senator, Furtado said, "she is the beneficiary of a system she doesn't support."

O'Connor said she does vote. But she said she believes that if men had been protecting the best interests of women, then women would not be forced to cast ballots and serve in the Legislature. Instead, they could stay home, raise families and tend to domestic duties, she said.

The 19th amendment giving all U.S. women the right to vote was ratified in 1920. O'Connor said the amendment began a societal shift that eventually, encouraged women to trade homemaker roles for careers.

She said she entered the workplace only because of her daughter was ill and medical bills were mounting. O'Connor, of Olathe, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1992 and won a Senate seat last year. She isn't worried if voters don't like her views.

"If I don't get re-elected, my only punishment is to go home to my husband and my roses and my children and my grandchildren," she said. "And if the trips to Topeka get to be too much and my husband asks me to quit, I would."