Some Argue Free Abortion Best Solution to Unintended Military Pregnancies

Some women recently interviewed as part of a qualitative study were not aware of the military's abortion policies.

Quantico, Virginia, USA - August 5, 2011: Marines in monthly formation.

By Liberty McArtor Published on November 17, 2017

Unintended pregnancy among active duty servicewomen is rising. The answer? Free abortion for military women — according to Ibis Reproductive Health.

The research revealed Wednesday that many military women assume the military covers abortions. Respondents also claimed they feared lack of confidentiality and stigma.

According to 21 Women

Study co-author Kate Grindlay acknowledged to Stars and Stripes that the study can’t be generalized. Researchers interviewed only 21 servicewomen who had abortions while serving in active-duty.

“Many of the women we spoke with had expected that the military would provide abortion care or at least counseling,” Grindlay told Stars and Stripes. She said they were “surprised — and in some cases angered — when they were turned away.”

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As the publication reports, abortion is only permitted at military facilities in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother. Likewise, the military’s healthcare provider covers abortion only in such situations. 

According to the report, the policy “had negative health and emotional consequences.” And there were “negative financial and logistical consequences for both servicewomen and the military.”

Fund Our Abortions, Please

A “majority” of women who became educated about the military’s abortion policy “believed that the military should provide and cover abortion,” the report states. However, they are also concerned. If the military becomes involved in abortions, they could lose privacy and face stigma. 

As examples, Grindlay told Stars and Stripes about women who had to tell superiors about their abortion because of side effects or time off. She mentions one woman whose commander found out she was pregnant through paperwork. 

The report recommends the military improve confidentiality, but does not offer solutions for how to do that. Nor does Grindlay offer solutions for how to improve confidentiality in her interview with Stars and Stripes.

She does say contraceptive counseling should include information about abortion services. Per the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, all servicewomen must undergo the counseling. The recent legislation is meant to curb unintended military pregnancy. 

Unplanned Pregnancies in the Military

According to U.S. Medicine, unintended pregnancy among servicewomen is rising. This “despite the availability of free contraceptives.” The rate of unintended pregnancies in the military is higher than in the civilian population. 

The Daily Caller reported earlier this year that pregnancy on Navy vessels is especially high. As author and Marine veteran Jude Eden has argued, such high pregnancy rates are costly and harm military readiness. 

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  • Tom Rath

    Seems to work for the IDF.

  • Dean Bruckner

    “She mentions one woman whose commander found out she was pregnant through paperwork.”

    I would hope so! He must know the health status of his troops. This confidentiality push is utter nonsense.

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