Jailtime For Pregnant Soldiers? The Army Has Made Getting Pregnant a Punishable Offense

Human Rights

Major General Anthony Cucolo, who is responsible for operations in northern Iraq, has issued a controversial new policy -- which went into effect on Nov. 4 -- that allows throwing women servicemembers on active duty in jail if they become pregnant:

Under the new policy, troops expecting a baby face court martial and a possible prison term -- and so do the men who made them pregnant.

And the rule applies to married couples at war together, who are expected to make sure their love lives do not interfere with duty.

Usual U.S. Army policy is to send pregnant soldiers home from combat zones within 14 days.

But Major General Anthony Cucolo, who runs U.S. operations in northern Iraq, issued the new orders because he said he was losing too many women with critical skills. He needed the threat of court martial and jail time as an extra deterrent, he said.

All troops under his command are covered by the extension to the military’s legal code -- the first time the U.S. Army has made pregnancy a punishable offence.

Military staff judge advocates for the Army have reviewed and approved the policy. The policy is legal under military law, but it raises "a mare's nest of legal, ethical and policy issues." For example, while the policy does say that a man who impregnates a woman will receive equal punishment, it may be difficult to identify him unless the woman reveals who he is.

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