Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Burning Questions of the Day: Pregnant Soldiers

In watching CNN the other day, I saw a clip talking about a new policy under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo (the general in charge of troops in northern Iraq), under which a soldier becoming pregnant, or impregnating another soldier would be punishable by court martial. An article on CNN's website says:

"The directive applies to all military and civilians serving under Cucolo in northern Iraq, an area that includes Balad, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Mosul and Samarra, according to the Web site of Multi-National Force Iraq.

Of the 22,000 people under Cucolo's command, 1,682 are women."

The article goes on to say that Cucolo will be the sole person deciding which cases are pursued, and that he will not proceed with court martial proceedings if the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault.


Here's my two cents:

Most of the vocal supporters that I've heard from believe that this policy is targeted at female soldiers who intentionally get pregnant so that they don't have to deploy or so that they can go home. It just seems to me that if only 7% of those under Cucolo's command are women to begin with, the percentage of those women that actually intentionally get pregnant so that they can go home probably accounts for an even smaller portion. It just seems like a pretty extreme policy enacted due to the actions of a pretty small percentage of soldiers. And if it was an issue that needed to be addressed, I'm not sure I understand why court-martial is the appropriate punishment...

Second, I don't see this policy creating positive change. Because the punishment is so absolute, it seems to me that a woman who unintentionally becomes pregnant by consentual sex while in Iraq has three options: (a) be court martialed, (b) have an abortion, which are not performed at military bases or hospitals, which means an off-site abortion in Iraq, or (c) lie, and say they were sexually assaulted.

What do you guys think about this?


  1. I don't really feel as though I have enough info to say one way or the other BUT I do feel strongly that if you sign up and make a commitment then you shouldn't back out of it (by intentionally becoming prego) like with the story of the solider who couldn't find child care. Not to mention, what kind of home is that child being born into? It may be the best home ever BUT if you're just having a child to get out of an immediate situation then that doesn't seem like the right choice to have a child.

  2. I think a really important part of this topic that is not being discussed is that soldiers are not supposed to have sex when deployed during war time. War time = no sexy time. So, the soldier shouldn't be having sex at all, consensual or not.

    That said, I agree with the punishment.

  3. T'would seem the military is still a bastion of hyper-masculinity and mysoginy, and since the generals are going to be people raised in the 60s and 70s when it was totally cool to hate women, isn't all that surprising to me.

    What's more surprising to me is that Robert Gates or some other mucky-muck hasn't called him on the phone and told him to STFU.

    The military is not always a comfortable place for women in general. I see absolutely no reason for this. Especially when, as you point out, it's directed at what is a miniscule problem at worst.

  4. I can seriously never spell "misogyny" right.


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