n American Army General issued a policy last month that would allow female soldiers and their sexual partners to be court-martialed in the event of a pregnancy. Major General Anthony Cucolo, a commander in Iraq, told the BBC that the policy was intended to protect the safety of his troops. "I've got a mission to do, I'm given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them. So I'm going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the twelve months we are in the combat zone," he said.
Since the announcement, General Cucolo has faced considerable criticism from veterans, women's rights groups, and lawmakers. The Christian Science Monitor reported that on Tuesday the Army received a letter from Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), who wrote, "Although Major General Cucolo stated today that a pregnant soldier would not necessarily be punished by court-martial under this policy, we believe the threat of criminal sanctions in the case of pregnancy goes far beyond what is needed to maintain good order and discipline. This policy could encourage female soldiers to delay seeking critical medical care with potentially serious consequences for mother and child."
In response to his critics, General Cucolo told a group of reporters on a conference call that he doubts the court-martial threat would ever be put to use, saying, "I do not ever see myself putting a soldier in jail for this,"reported the Christian Science Monitor.
The Associated Press reports that since the policy went into effect on November 4th, four women and three men have been found to be in violation of it. The pregnant soldiers were sent home, as is normal Army policy, and all parties involved received letters of reprimand.
Military health centers are allowed to stock contraception, but are not required to do so. Last week, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced legislation that would force military health centers to keep emergency contraception in stock, stated the Minnesota Post. American servicewomen also have no access to abortion services because of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions.
Media Resources: BBC 12/20/09; Chrisitan Science Monitor 12/22/09; AP 12/22/09; Minnesota Post 12/19/09
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .