As if they didn't already have enough to worry about, U.S. military personnel in Iraq may have to worry about facing court-martial over pregnancy
General Anthony Cucolo, who commands the forces in northern Iraq, has
officially prohibited pregnancy, a rule that would allow for punishing
any military woman who got pregnant, as well as the military man
responsible. Seven soldiers have already been punished under the rule,
but none were court martialled and the only permanent reprimand went to
a married man who impregnated his female subordinate. Cucolo is already
from the policy, which was made official last month but did not become
public until Saturday. Unsurprisingly, outrage is high. Is the policy
as stupid as it seems, or is there some merit?
- Pregnancy a Serious Military Issue Iraq veteran Captain Crispin Burke agrees with Cucolo that "deployment pregnancies are [a] huge morale issue that has been largely
swept under the rug." He writes, "For
both males and the vast majority of females in the military who are
serving their country honorably,
there's a profound sense of resentment towards women who get pregnant
in a combat zone and go home early." Burke says that female troops
sometimes use pregnancy to avoid service, though not always. "I doubt
that every pregnant Soldier will get a trial by court-martial -- I
think it's largely in place as a deterrent, rather than as a feasible
course of action in most cases."
- A Double Standard Mom Logic's Vivian Manning-Schaffel insists, "I say unless the U.S. Military plans on distributing condoms, IUDs, and birth control pills
along with the standardized rations, the punishment of pregnancy
counters equal rights." She writes, "On one hand, I completely
understand why the 'war theater' is no place for a preggo. Hell, it's
no place for anyone. And I can see why a woman in need of a way
out of Iraq could see pregnancy as a one-way ticket back home. But on
the other, this policy poses a hefty double-standard.
Throughout history, how many stories have you heard about soldiers
impregnating women while on duty? 'Madame Butterfly,' anyone?"
- A Burden On Military A commenter on the NPR story wrote, "it is worth remembering facilities and the support network do not exist
for the military to support the women in Iraq and sending them home
does hurt a unit. They will be on 'limited duty' and could not
contribute to the fighting if it was required or go on convoys or
participate in any heavy lifting that their jobs may entail. Even an
office job in Iraq still requires 12-16 work hours that pregnant women
are often advised against doing. Replacements just do not materialize."
- An Unenforceable Ban Army photojournalist Kate Hoit writes that sex in a war zone happens. "If you can't even enforce the rules already at hand, why attempt to
take the next step? There is absolutely no way you can keep soldiers
from having sex," she writes. "And anyone who has served in the military knows
when a soldier wants to have sex, they'll have it and it doesn't matter
where. You can't ban pregnancies if you can't even control the
You Know Who Never Gets Pregnant? Think Progress's Amanda Terkel reminds us. "With the military resorting to these extreme tactics to retain soldiers
with “critical skills,” it’s another reminder about why the Obama
administration needs to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."
- 'Natural Consequence' Of Coed Military The Wichita Falls, Texas, Times-Record-News argues
that military leadership will just have to accept this kind of thing.
"Banning pregnancy among Army personnel serving in Iraq makes sense, on
perhaps one level. But any couple who has found themselves with an
unexpected pregnancy can tell you, these things happen," they write.
"As long as you have men and women in the same ZIP code, there will be
pregnancies. The military, surely, is smart enough to figure this out."
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