Will Women be Required to Register for the Draft?
June 15, 2016—Just yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that will require women to register for the military draft for the first time in the nation’s history. The National Defense Authorization Act, originally proposed in December 2015, was a House bill that lifted all gender restrictions for military service. Essentially, this made it possible for women to join special combat forces like the Green Berets and the Navy SEALs. This was a major step in gender equality in military service, but at that time, the House bill did not make it mandatory for women to join the draft.
Today, that has changed.
National Defense Authorization Act
Women who turn 18 on or after January 1, 2018, would be required to register for Selective Service. The penalties for failing to do so would be the same as they are for men now. This would affect Pell Grants and other forms of federal aid.
Selective Service and Women
The primary purpose of a draft is to accumulate a stronger military presence during wartime. Any drafted soldiers have a chance of fighting on the front lines, and many are hesitant to send America’s daughters there.
One Supreme Court case—Rostker v. Goldberg 1981—found that excluding women from the draft was constitutional. At the same time, current legislation changed requirements so that the only area where women were missing from the military was with the draft.
Women currently make up a little more than 15 percent of all active-duty personnel. In September of 2015, the Army Ranger School opened to all women a short time after two female soldiers graduated from the program. Women have already proven that they are more than capable of defending the country’s freedoms alongside men and countless women have held vital roles in modern warfare.
Advocates and opposition have begun fiercely pushing their own sides of the issue, both with valid arguments.
Drafting Women: The Controversy
Several leaders have stated that this new bill is only fair, and John McCain has said that every leader in the country is in favor of it. This blanket statement is not quite true, and it is certain that this bill has already met strong opposition. Several members of Congress have begun attacking the bill fiercely, saying the change to draft young girls goes against good conscience.
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, has been a strong voice against the law, claiming it to be a “radical change that is attempting to be foisted on the American people. The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls into combat, to my mind, makes little or no sense.” Ted Cruz also pointed out that the vote was passed “without public debate.”
After discounting Cruz’s opinion due to lack of military service, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said, “After months of rigorous oversight, a large bipartisan majority on the Armed Services Committee agreed that there is simply no further justification to limit Selective Service registration to men.”
Despite controversy bubbling up now, the law faced little resistance in the Senate, passing with a vote of 85 for and 13 against.
Although we know the Senate’s decision, the question of public opinion remains unanswered. Would you support this bill if it was signed into law? Voice your beliefs and help raise awareness of this potentially revolutionary policy.
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