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Effort to lift ban on drafting women stalls in Congress

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Dec. 2, 2015 that the Department of Defense will lift gender-based restrictions on military service. Mac Thornberry and John McCain, Armed Services Committee chairmen, responded to this announcement by giving Congress a 30-day period to review the statement and the implications of the decision.

After the 30-day period, January 2016, no decision was made as to whether females would be subject to future military drafts. This lack of definitive action has since become the center of controversy.

The Selective Service has not called a draft since Dec. 7, 1972. Since 1981, all male Americans citizens are required to register after their 18th birthday.

Politicians have debated whether the Selective Service should require women to register or if the draft should be eliminated altogether.

This topic has become a key point of discussion among presidential hopefuls. “I have no problem whatsoever with people of either gender serving in combat so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised,” said presidential candidate Marco Rubio during South Carolina’s Republican primary debate on Feb. 13. “I do believe Selective Service should be opened up for both men and women.”

Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, before suspending their campaigns, also supported requiring women to register for the military draft.

Ted Cruz, however, opposed the idea during a South Carolina rally, saying the other candidates are “so addled by political correctness that they think we should put our little girls on the front line. That’s crazy.”

This topic has been shrouded by controversy since Jan. 24, 2013, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ended direct ground combat exclusions for women in the service. The Supreme Court made a decision in 1981 to exempt women from the draft because of their restriction from combat. The exemption for female conscription are no longer accurate since the combat restriction was lifted.

“If we wish to uphold and promote gender equality, then women should also be required to enroll in the Selective Service,” Brooke Stedman of the Women in International Security told CNN on Feb. 19. “Arguments that the American people don’t want to see their daughters and sisters drafted are offensive and ignorant.”

According to a U.S. Marines’ year-long study released in 2015, teams with female members performed at lower overall levels, completed tasks more slowly and fired weapons with less accuracy than their all-male counterparts. Female Marines also sustained higher injury rates and demonstrated lower levels of physical performance capacity overall, officials reported.

One bill has been introduced, but Congress has yet to make a decision on whether they will require females to register for the draft.

Story by Christen Latini, Courtesy Photo

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