Army Gets Tough on Pregnancy

Army general in Iraq issues pregnancy ban:
The Army general of U.S. forces in Northern Iraq has banned pregnancy among military personnel in his command, NBC News reported on Friday.

Anyone who becomes pregnant or impregnates another servicemember, including married couples assigned to the same unit, could face a court-martial and jail time, according to an order issued by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo.

The order, which went into effect on Nov. 4, was first reported by the military publication Stars and Stripes.

...Military officials say the order was issued because Army policy requires the force to remove a pregnant soldier from a war zone within 14 days of learning of the pregnancy, creating a hole in a unit that makes it more difficult to complete its mission.
Because of the narratives about women in our culture, the first thought most people will have when reading this is: Good, 'cause you know how bitchez get pregnant on purpose to trap men; I bet they totally get pregnant on purpose to get out of service, too.

And because of the realities of the rape culture that we conspire to never address, very few people will stop to consider that female soldiers who get pregnant as the result of being raped in the war zone, in recruitment centers, in military academies, and in the military generally are now probably more likely to themselves be court-martialled than their rapists, whom the US military loves to ignore.

And that's to say nothing of the absurdity that someone could be punished for a simple contraceptive failure. And it's not like abortion is easy to come by in the military, since "military hospitals are banned from providing abortion services, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest (and for the latter two, only if the patient pays for the service herself)."
Starting in 1979, Defense Department appropriations bills have been used to restrict or prohibit the use of federal funds—meaning all military health coverage—for abortion services at overseas military hospitals. Although President Clinton reversed the ban shortly after taking office, anti-abortion forces in Congress made the ban permanent in 1995, preventing future presidents from altering the rules by executive order.

...The result of the ban is that active-duty servicewomen and military dependents are faced with a number of equally unappealing options: venture out to local hospitals while overseas, to medical facilities that may have different standards of care, where medical workers may not speak English, or where there is animosity towards the United States; seek a back-alley abortion in a country that prohibits abortion; or undertake an arduous process of obtaining permission from commanding officers to fly home or to a neighboring country, find space on a military transport, or pay for a commercial flight home (a prohibitive cost for lower-ranking servicewomen), and return to their units aware that their superiors know intimate details about their medical records.

...Vicki Saporta, President of the National Abortion Federation, says that military women seeking abortions face a no-win situation. "If you're a woman in the military, you're going to have to obtain a leave to get the care you need. If you're honest about why you need that care, you put your military career in jeopardy. If you're not honest, then you put your military career in jeopardy."

...Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), argued that "servicewomen do not receive the protection of the Constitution they defend," and tried unsuccessfully in 2005 and 2006 to repeal the ban—or at least to bring it in line with current Medicaid standards by allowing abortion funding in rape and incest cases. Opponents like Kansas Republican Jim Ryan postured in response claiming that, "allowing self-funded abortions would simply turn our military hospitals overseas into abortion clinics."
Because everyone knows that giving women access to abortion means that they'll go out and get pregnant deliberately just so that they can have abortions. Or something.

Anyway, back to the pregnancy ban. One last thing I'd like to note about this ban is that, despite its attempt to be an equal-opportunity punisher, taking action against "anyone who becomes pregnant or impregnates another servicemember," the reality is that only women show the physical evidence of what's being criminalized. So, if I'm a woman who's become pregnant via consensual sex, the only way the Army is going to know which man to punish is if I tell them.

Realistically, that means the only way this ban is gender equitable is if women—female soldiers, who live and die by the same codes of honor and loyalty as male soldiers—snitch on their partners, knowing they'll ruin their careers.

Something tells me there ain't gonna be a lot of trouble for the male soldiers.

I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Ahem.

[H/Ts to Shakers ASDKids2 and Kathy.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus