12.23.2009

new court martial offense for u.s. troops: pregnancy

A U.S. Army general in northern Iraq has added pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could be court-martialed.

The new policy, outlined last month by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo and released Friday by the Army, would apply to both female soldiers who become pregnant on the battlefield and the male soldiers who impregnate them.

Civilians reporting to Cucolo also could face criminal prosecution under the new guidelines.

Army spokesman George Wright said the service typically sends home from the battlefield soldiers who become pregnant. But it is not an Army-wide policy to punish them under the military's legal code, he said.

However, division commanders like Cucolo have the authority to impose these type of restrictions to personnel operating under their command, Wright said.

At the same time, women in the military face great restrictions in terminating pregnancy. The Hyde Amendment makes it impossible to use federal funds for abortion services, which includes military hospitals at home or abroad. President Clinton reversed this ban, but Congress reversed the reversal - and cemented that as permanent in 1995.