Abortion in the US Military
Like a strong military, keeping proper care out of the hands of women is a time-honored American tradition.
A new study published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health has grim news about women serving in the US military, concerning their emotional, financial, and physical well-being due to the impact of the military’s restrictive abortion policy.
Federal law allows military medical facilities to provide abortions only in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger. Many military women expecting to be able to access abortion services were surprised when in the situation, to find that they were turned away – even those seeking counselling.
The findings shed light on the intersection of American attitudes towards women, class, sex, and the military; in some ways it is inevitable that a country with puritanical restrictions around women’s sexual freedom has resisted their entry into the military. Members of the military are (theoretically) lionized and looked up to as worthy and deserving of our respect; for a culture that has long felt otherwise about women, this is a difficult circle to square. Combined with the fact that soldiers and particularly veterans in reality actually receive subpar healthcare support, it stands to reason that female service members would fall to the bottom of that ladder.
The military has long been a solid option for the socioeconomically depressed; an option with training opportunities, discipline, square meals, and funding and support for further education. Dressing violence in a uniform and a flag has proven a solid investment for the US government and so there is reciprocal benefit there. However, since the relatively recent admission of women into the military – women of course being more likely to be affected by poverty and an unequal distribution of social services – the country has struggled to reconcile the desire to encourage young, poor, and marginalized bodies to sign up to be used as fodder in far-flung conflicts and its natural instinct to keep good care out of the hands of women.
What this study shows – perhaps not surprisingly – is that the US military has opted for the latter. Like a strong military, keeping proper care out of the hands of women is a time-honored American tradition.
Read more about the study here:
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