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Home » News

Why NOW is wrong about pregnancy and soldiers

Submitted by on Tuesday, 22 December 2009 No Comment
armyGood for Army Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III for backing off his threat to court martial any soldier who gets pregnant - or who assists in putting another soldier in a family way - while serving in Iraq.

He now says he'll handle such situations - and the Army is averaging a case a week since Cucolo took over command in Iraq in November - with lesser punishments. Cases of pregnancy resulting from rape never have been punished, nor will they be, he said.

Court martial was a bit harsh - not need to create a criminal record out of conception. Non-judicial punishment under Article 15 is sufficient, and when someone ranked major or above hands that out it can come with loss of rank or pay. I'd be fine with busting them down a grade or more, hitting them in the ego and the wallet.

I'm sure the National Organization for Women wouldn't be fine with it, though.

"How dare any government say we're going to impose any kind of punishment on women for getting pregnant," NOW President Terry O'Neill told ABC News. "This is not the 1800s."

How dare the government? Well, it's right there in the list of things all military personnel are told that they don't do in a war zone: Don't drink, don't gamble, don't have sex.

And, no, it's not the 1800s. It's 2009, and we are at war with an all-volunteer military consisting of women and men.  Women who have struggled for years to earn the right to work right alongside men. Women of the generation following the one that fought in the 1970s to overturn rules that threw women out of the military the second they became pregnant.

Women who go to through the same basic and advanced training as men and know the rules.

It would be one thing if the pregnancy rules Cucolo is implementing applied only to women, but they don't. In the seven cases he's handled since taking command, three have involved men accused of impregnating  fellow soldiers.

It would be one thing if this were peace time and the only complications were reassigning the pregnant soldier to a post where proper medical care could be provided. But it's not peace time, and any soldiers who leaves the battle field must be replaced. If they're not replaced, they've put others who have to pick up the slack at risk.

People who join the military do so understanding that there are rules and discipline. They quickly learn that there are even more rules and discipline when they're at war.

No one is saying that women in the military cannot become pregnant. What the general was saying is that women who are deployed who become pregnant in a combat zone will face punishment for violating rules they should have been well aware of. Any male soldiers involved will be punished as well.

Except it's not really punishment for pregnancy. It's punishment for violating rules in a place where rules matter more than they do at a stateside military installation.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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