With Combat Ban Lifted, Will Women Be Eligible for the Draft?

by Katrina Pallop

Now that the Obama Administration has lifted the ban on women in combat, the next question is whether women will now be required to register for the draft. As it stands now, only men between the ages of 18-35 are eligible to be drafted into military service, but a revision of that law might be inevitable now that women are officially allowed to serve in combat positions. 

At no point in American history have women been drafted into the military, and there’s no talk of reinstating the draft in the foreseeable future. Regardless, the continued exclusion of women from the draft is considered by many to be unconstitutional. Lawmakers, historians, and citizens are divided on the question of whether women should now have to register for the draft. 

“You can’t pick and choose when equality should apply to you,” said Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, one of the three women who filed the lawsuit that challenged the ban on women in combat. “Making generalized statements like, ‘Women are capable of being in combat’ or ‘Women are incapable of being in combat,’ are equally ignorant. People are either competent or they’re not competent.”

No one has been drafted into the armed forces since 1973, and it’s very unlikely that the draft will be reinstated anytime soon. Public approval of conscripted military service plummeted during the Vietnam War, when the draft came to be seen by many as unfair. Detractors argued that young men from lower-income situations were being drafted in larger numbers than those from higher economic classes. 40 years ago, a medical student named Robert Goldberg drew attention to the injustice of men being forced to serve when women were not. Even then, there was talk of including women in the draft, though many dismissed the idea out of hand. 

Regardless of whether a draft is likely in the future, many feel that it is necessary for women to begin registering alongside men. But though a majority of Americans were in favor of lifting the ban on women in combat, a much smaller percentage believes that women should be considered for the draft. Addressing this question will be the next step in establishing gender equality in the military. 


Source: The Big Story

Photos via Wired.com, TIME

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