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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Rule for Iraq Practically Guarantees Abortions

Female sailors at attention
If you're in Iraq and you get pregnant, you've got trouble.


A new order from the general in charge of U.S. troops in northern Iraq makes getting pregnant or impregnating a fellow soldier an offense punishable by court-martial.

The directive, part of a larger order restricting the behavior of the 22,000 soldiers under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo's command, is meant to prevent losing soldiers at a time when troop strength is stretched thin, Cucolo explained in a statement sent to the troops under his command and provided to CNN.

"I need every soldier I've got, especially since we are facing a drawdown of forces during our mission," Cucolo wrote. "Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status -- or contributes to doing that to another -- is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos."

"I've got a 22,000-man task force and I need every soldier I've got," Cucolo explained. "We are facing a drawdown and anyone that leaves earlier than the expected 12 months creates a burden on their teammates. My female soldiers are invaluable -- many of them hold high impact jobs. In general, my troops are few in number and I need them all."

The problems here are many, but the one that came immediately to my mind is that this new rule practically guarantees abortion. I decided to take a tour through some top "pro-life" sites and see what they had to say about this. Turns out, their response to this new rule is... Well, they don't have one.

In every case, the big stories on these site were how healthcare reform is going to pay for abortions -- something that's entirely untrue.

But hey, they don't have time to worry about real world abortion, they have BS to launch against healthcare reform. You have one issue that's guaranteed to encourage abortions and another issue that's not going to do anything to encourage abortions. But the Republican Party isn't launching an attack on Cucolo's new rule, so neither are the anti-abortion types. If you ever needed proof that the entire "pro-life" movement is just a sockpuppet for the GOP, there ya go.

Of course, there's also another explanation; it may be that the anti-abortion types think they already have their bases covered here. If you're in the military, it's not so easy to get an abortion.

Author Kathryn Joyce explains:

"You hear these legends of coat-hanger abortions," a 26-year-old former Marine sergeant told me recently, "but there are no coat hangers in Iraq. I looked." Amy (who prefers not to use her real name) was stationed in Fallujah as a military journalist two years ago when she discovered she was pregnant. As a female Marine, a distinct minority in the branch, Amy was fearful of going to her chain of command to explain her situation.

For military women, who lack all rights to medical privacy, facing an unplanned pregnancy is a daunting obstacle. Thanks to anti-abortion forces in Congress, military hospitals are banned from providing abortion services, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest (and for the latter two, only if the patient pays for the service herself). Amy says her options were "like being given a choice between swimming in a pond full of crocodiles or piranhas."

Amy tried twice to self-abort with the cleaning rod from a rifle. When the second attempt hospitalized her, she was charged with a crime. "The first sergeant came to her hospital room to announce that Amy would be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice," Joyce writes, "which addresses violations of general regulations, for having had sex in a war zone." Amy's pregnancy was the result of rape, an ongoing problem in the military. A Pentagon report released in May discovered 2,923 reported cases of rape in 2008.

Of course, the anti-abortion movement has good reason to ignore cases like Amy's, which in turn gives them good reason to ignore Cucolo's rule. When women can't get clinical abortions, they still abort. Women don't abort because of "convenience," as the common lie would have it, women abort because they believe they have no choice. As a result, when you make abortion illegal, women die. The inability to legislate abortion out of existence isn't something that these groups want to highlight -- especially when you consider that their entire strategy toward abortion is to legislate it out of existence. It's not working in the military and it won't work anywhere else. So they don't bring up Cucolo's rule, because they don't want to bring attention to their failures.

At least, that's the only explanation that occurs to me. If you've got a better explanation for why the "pro-life" movement is silent on a rule that is guaranteed to encourage abortion, I'd like to hear it.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's about time someone drew a connecting line between these two stories.