Well, there seems to be a lot in the news lately about issues that affect women in the military. And since I am again on night shift, I have plenty of time awake to ponder my opinion on all this news.
For starters, Senator Shaheen from New Hampshire introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would end the ban on abortions being covered for servicewomen and dependents when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. This is coming at the same time that the House failed to pass a bill to ban sex-selective abortions. In addition, a lot of people are up in arms over photos of two Air Force servicewomen breastfeeding in their uniforms.
How is this relevant to me? For starters, I am pro-life and I think that federal money should never be used to pay for abortion. I was adopted, and I know there is a loving home available to every child, whether it is a boy or a girl, wanted or unwanted, the result of planning or rape. Also, that our Congress thinks it's OK for a couple to have an abortion because the baby isn't the sex they wanted is a horrendous concept for me.
Secondly, why is everyone shocked that women breastfeed in uniform? I agree that doing so in uniform in public is inappropriate, but why isn't the issue here the fact that private facilities aren't readily available for military women. One of the most commonly-cited factors for women leaving the military is family reasons, because it is hard to balance family and work. Finding a balance isn't even the way to describe it, but rather having to make hard decisions, and making the choice between career and family. I don't have children yet, but because of mission requirements, I haven't been able to go on leave and take a vacation with my husband since we've been married, and we're not even deployed. I can't even imagine how much more difficult it is for people with children to have to make the decision to pursue their careers and reduce the time they have with family.
If the military really thinks that retaining women is an important mission requirement (and I think it is ;) ) then maybe they should look into actually recognizing women as not being the same as men, but being women, and maybe make it a little bit easier to serve. This doesn't mean change the standards to make it easier for women, it means stop ignoring that differences are there. Such as provide space to let women breastfeed or pump milk on their breaks, and not just in the half-sized female latrine with only one light bulb. And maybe stop ignoring the fact that this is an issue, and put "no breastfeeding in uniform in public spaces" in the regulations.
Oh, and maybe make uniforms that are fitted for women. That would be nice too.