By Miriam Raftery
February 7, 2016 (Washington D.C.) - Congressman Duncan Hunter has introduced the Draft America’s Daughters Act, a bill that would require young women to register for the Draft with the Selective Service.
Hunter, a Republican representing East County, introduced the measure along with Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana as a protest measure against the Obama administration’s decision to open combat roles to women in the military.
The U.S. military is currently comprised of all volunteer forces, though young men are required to register with the Selective Service when they turn 18 in case a draft is revived. Hunter’s bill would require young women ages 18 to 26 to also register.
According to the Washington Post, Hunter said, “If this Administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives.”
Last week, Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley and Marine Commandant General Robert Neller testified before the Senate that they believe there should no longer be an exemption in the draft for half of the country’s population now that the military is inclusive of women in combat.
Ironically, Hunter, a former Marine, added that he would probably vote against his own proposal.
The proposal to draft women raises some troubling issues, since women may face special risks beyond those confronting me.
Polls show that a majority of Americans now say they would support having women register for the draft. But they may not be aware of the special risks associated with such service for women.
The Los Angeles reports that recent studies by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, 23% of women in the military experienced sexual assault and 10% of military women reported that they had been raped.
In addition, women veterans commit suicide six times more often than men who are veterans. In addition, chemicals that American troops have been exposed to in past wars were found to cause birth defects in their children. In addition, pregnant women in the military who received the anthrax vaccine also had higher rates of children with birth defects.
Are these really risks that all young women should be forced to take solely because some military women volunteer to do so? Should equality of opportunity mandate equal responsibility for all, or should protecting a generation of children not yet born factor into the equation?
These are tough questions, and Hunter’s provocative bill raises the opportunity for discussion on these important issues.