CNN reported today that a single woman who was discharged from the Air Force and asked to pay back her $92,000 ROTC scholarship after she revealed she was pregnant is fighting her dismissal.Rebecca Edmonds was finishing up her nursing degree at Marquette University when she found out she was pregnant.
She received her commission but failed to tell the Air Force about her condition until she arrived at her first duty station. By then she was two-thirds into her pregnancy and there was no turning back.
Each tells the sad tale of a practicing Catholic, daughter of a Navy officer, who just wants to serve her country but was told single parents aren’t welcome. The information she’s pushing the hardest–that if she had terminated the pregnancy, she could have kept her commission and would still be an officer.
It’s true, that the military doesn’t want single parents. On the Air Force recruitment site, when you start an application, if you hold your mouse over the question “Are you a single parent?” it says, explicitly:
“An applicant is ineligible when he or she is an unmarried applicant who has physical or legal custody of any family members incapable of self-care. The applicant does not have the flexibility required to perform worldwide duty, short notice TDY, remote tours, and varied duty hours.”
This information is repeated in Air Force Recruiting Service Instruction 36-2001; the other branches have similar policies.
At times the military hasn’t even wanted married parents. A 2008 USA Today story reported that male, married Marine recruits who were fathers were 10 per cent more likely to drop out of boot camp–making them less desirable than those with criminal records.
Edmonds was not completely without options. If she had notified superiors of the change in her medical condition, as she signed a contract promising she’d do, the Air Force wouldn’t have accused her of fraud. She could have given custody of her son to her parents, who told CNN they would have taken care of him if their daughter deployed, anyway. She could have married her boyfriend, the father of her child.
A commenter, Milliepede, raised an interesting point under the Daily Mail’s story: “Oh, and don’t even use the “I’m a Catholic and don’t believe in abortion” card. If you’re having pre-marital sex and having children outside marriage – THAT IS NOT CATHOLIC [capitalisation by commenter] and she shouldn’t be portraying herself as such.”
It is also worth noting that none of the three stories mention whether Edmonds was using contraception.
Karen Edmonds, Rebecca’s mother, is trying to make this about all single women in the military, telling CNN that when Secretary of defence Leon Panetta said, in regards to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, that he was committed to “removing all the barriers that prevent Americans from serving their country,” it should have also applied to single mothers.
But it’s not remotely the same. A gay soldier can’t avoid being gay. A single soldier can prevent getting pregnant.
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