Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
December 22, 2009  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Women Senators Ask Army to Rescind Pregnancy Policy  

 Washington, DC – Today, United States Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on Army Secretary John McHugh to rescind a policy that criminalizes pregnancy for many service members currently in Iraq.

 

The text of the Senators’ letter follows:

 

December 22, 2009

 

The Honorable John McHugh

Secretary of the Army

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

 

Dear Secretary McHugh:

 

It has come to our attention that Major General Anthony Cucolo III—the Commander of Multi-National Division-North, Iraq—has implemented a stricter policy that criminalizes pregnancy for members of the United States Armed Forces under his command and for others “serving with, employed by, or accompanying” the military. While we fully understand and appreciate the demands facing both commanders and service members in Iraq, we believe this policy is deeply misguided and must be immediately rescinded.

 

Under the policy, it is possible to face punishment, including imprisonment, for “becoming pregnant, or impregnating a Soldier, while assigned to the Task Force Marne” Area of Operations. The policy even extends to married couples jointly serving in the warzone.

 

Although Major General Cucolo stated today that a pregnant soldier would not necessarily be punished by court-martialunder 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.

 

This policy also undermines efforts to enhance benefits and services so that dual military couples can continue to serve. We can think of no greater deterrent to women contemplating a military career than the image of a pregnant woman being severely punished simply for conceiving a child. This defies comprehension.

 

As such, we urge you to immediately rescind this policy. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this most important request, and for your continued commitment to our men and women in uniform.

 

Sincerely,

 

Barbara Boxer

United States Senator

                                                                                

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

                                         

Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senator

                                                                                

Barbara A. Mikulski

United States Senator

 

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