“It is not appropriate to get pregnant whenever they desire. They must take measures to prevent unplanned pregnancies.”
A video has resurfaced of Arizona Sen. Martha McSally giving a lecture at Duke University in 2007, where the then-graduate student claimed servicewomen would opt to get pregnant as a way to avoid deployment.
In the lecture, recently found by Salon, McSally claims that laws allowing women to end their military service due to pregnancy are outdated, and leads servicewomen to seek out pregnancy in order to be honorably discharged early.
“Either they’re not being responsible in their sexual activity, or they think, ‘oh, I can have a baby whenever I want,” said McSally. And there’s some — and it’s a few, but I’ll tell ya, it permeates everywhere, and it permeates to people’s attitudes about all of us — who say, ‘oh, we’re coming up on deployment, and I don’t want to go, I’m gonna get pregnant.’”
But a study performed by the Military Health System found that, on average, only 13% of enlisted servicemen experience a pregnancy-related event every year. And of those, the overwhelming majority are higher-ranked and have been deployed at least once while in the service.
In total, roughly 6% of servicewomen experience a pregnancy-related event without having been deployed every year. The military did not provide information on how many women were discharged due to pregnancy.
In her paper, McSally said that enlisted women weren’t taking the time to plan their pregnancy properly, and that the ability to start a family is one of the rights women give up when they join the military.
“It is not appropriate to get pregnant whenever they desire,” McSally wrote. “They must take measures to prevent unplanned pregnancies and plan for pregnancies to occur only when they are in non-deployable situations.”
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Planned Parenthood has repeatedly spoken out against McSally’s interpretation of family planning, and McSally has voted to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding at least eight times, and has stated that she supports a nationwide ban on abortions.
McSally is currently trailing behind opponent Mark Kelly in the race for her seat in the Senate. McSally was appointed to Sen. John McCain’s spot in Congress after losing her first attempt to obtain a seat in the Senate to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2018.