Pregnancy has consistently been treated by the US military as a costly inconvenience, and proof of women’s weak, unreliable and unpredictable bodies. In particular, there are concerns about the exceptionally high rates of unplanned pregnancies amongst service members, and the logistics and costs associated with such pregnancies (research indicated service women may be 50% more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy). In an attempt to address these issues, the current defense policy bill that was passed by the House on Friday includes a provision that would force military clinics and hospitals to carry the full array of contraception methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Regardless of whether the bill passes (it’s not looking good), this birth control provision misses the mark when it comes to addressing pregnancy- and unplanned pregnancy in particular- within the US forces. The elephant in the room in this conversation is the way in which service women’s access to abortion has been whittled away over the past years- to the point at which even those women who are pregnant as a result of rape have difficulty attaining an abortion at a military facility.
But first, let’s get through some facts about military pregnancies. Continue reading