The US military's Christmas gift to soldiers serving in Iraq: an end to the harsh policy that threatens court-martial and jail time for getting pregnant—or getting someone else pregnant. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top US commander in the country, is revamping regulations, and the new orders, in effect Jan. 1, leave out the pregnancy ban that stirred outrage when Stars and Stripes reported it last week.
The commander who enacted the ban argued that it was meant to stress the importance of female soldiers in the war zone, and the loss to their units when they were sent home. But critics weren't buying, with four US senators sending a harsh letter to the secretary of the Army. “This policy could encourage female soldiers to delay seeking critical medical care with potentially serious consequences for the mother and child,” said the letter signed by Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Jeanne Shaheen and Kirsten Gillibrand. ”We can think of no greater deterrent to women contemplating a military career than the image of a pregnant woman being severely punished for simply conceiving a child. That defies comprehension.”