If you happen to be in Iraq and like a girl in uniform, you better put a wrap on it.
Vivian Manning-Schaffel: According to an online article in Stars & Stripes, U.S. military personnel could face a court martial and jail time for getting knocked up or impregnating an officer if it compromises "a unit's ability to perform its mission." Armywide policy requires that a pregnant soldier in Iraq be removed from the war theater within 14 days.
"When a soldier becomes pregnant or causes a soldier to become pregnant through consensual activity," Army spokesman Maj. Lee Peters told Stars & Stripes, "the redeployment of the pregnant soldier creates a void in the unit and has a negative impact on the unit's ability to accomplish its mission. Another soldier must assume the pregnant soldier's responsibilities."
So far, no one's gotten bagged for this, but if a woman gets pregnant while deployed and doesn't come forward with the identity of the father, he could escape any repercussion unscathed.
Another expert interviewed for this article, Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, suspects this new order is intended to counter a number of incidents where "female GIs have to be sidelined when they can't be spared." But, at once, it calls into question "a mare's nest of legal, ethical and policy issues."
"Here you really have issues that go to the core of personal autonomy: reproductive rights," said Fidell.
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? For female soldiers, a medical condition derived from sex is punishable by law, while male soldiers are encouraged to have at it.
Here's another thought: If a soldier is found pregnant but doesn't know it, is she at fault, and should she be punished? And issues involving pregnancy, particularly among married couples, are fraught with variables that make it cloudy in terms of distinguishing intent. Aren't married couples legally allowed to have relations? What if the condom broke?
What do you guys think?
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop culture blogs: The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme, and is on the web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|