June 24, 2024

Drafting Women Would Turn Female Bodies Into ‘Instruments of War’

Compelling women to fight would transform historic norms governing women’s function in society.

By Ben Johnson

An amendment to a must-pass bill pending before Congress would force women to register for the military draft — a move opposed by most Americans and two out of three females.

The current draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amends the Military Selective Service Act to require women to join men in registering with Selective Service, opening the potential that the government would conscript both sexes in the event of a military draft. That amendment, added in the Senate, complicates another controversial provision added in the House of Representatives which would automatically enroll young people in Selective Service.

“If these two provisions come together and stay in the bill until the end, in the final version, what you would have is both young men and women, 18-to-26 years old, automatically being registered with Selective Service,” Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance, founded by Lt. Col. Oliver North, told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” Thursday. Many women “would not even know that they are signed up for the draft until they get that draft notice.”

Polls show the majority of Americans — and the overwhelming majority of women — oppose drafting girls in their teens or twenties into combat. Only 45% of Americans favored female conscription in a 2021 Ipsos poll. A bare majority of men (55%) were inclined to force women into military service, while only 36% of women agreed. Support for drafting women fell a whopping 18 points between 2016 and 2021.

“Normal people are like, ‘Leave our daughters alone,’” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told Fox News this week. The Midwestern conservative fought back prior attempts to draft women via NDAA amendment in 2021 and 2022. Hawley also led the efforts against those proposals.

“This has become one of those reoccurring issues on the Left that never goes away,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “They never drop it. They just keep doing it until they [get their way]. It’s kind of like a kid pestering his parents until he wears them out.”

Perkins said the measure shows Democrats “trying to blur the gender lines and using the military not to fight and win wars, but as a place of social experimentation.”

The amendment touched off massive backlash among congressional incumbents and those hoping to join them. “This will happen over my dead body,” said Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), adding, “Real men don’t draft women.” Sam Brown, the Republican candidate challenging first-term Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen in Nevada, called her support for drafting women “absurd,” “unbelievable,” and “unacceptable.”

“Look at my face. This is the high cost of war,” said Brown, who suffered disfiguring facial wounds from an IED, in the emotional online video. “Your policies and the policies of this administration have left a severe deficiency in the recruiting of a volunteer army.”

“You should be ashamed of yourself, Jacky Rosen,” Brown said. “America, Nevada, voting in November counts, not just for us but literally for our daughters.”

Democratic Senate candidates facing difficult reelections in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Montana have backed away from or equivocated about the notion. Yet the motion enjoys some bipartisan support. “I’ve talked to my colleagues on the Republican side about this specifically. It’s kind of split,” Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.), a 20-year Marine Corps veteran, told NewsNation’s “The Hill” on Thursday. “[M]any other nations require their females to serve, including Israel. Eventually, I think we will [get to] that point.”

McCormick said, while “this is something our society is evolving on … I don’t think American society is ready for it yet.”

Women have never been drafted in U.S. history, although conscription laws have expanded its reach at times. On the eve of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt mandated a peacetime draft. After the physical and social casualties of Vietnam, President Richard Nixon instituted the all-volunteer military in 1973, and Gerald Ford stopped mandating that young men register with Selective Service in April 1975. But with recruitment falling and the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter reinstituted the need for men to sign up for Selective Service.

“These last few years have been the worst in recruitment for the all-volunteer force,” Kilgannon, who was appointed to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service in 2017, told Perkins.

The largest segment of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Army, fell 10,000 soldiers shy of its 2023 recruitment goal of 65,000. In 2022, it missed its target by 15,000. Recruitment from the region supplying the majority of service members, the South, fell 31% in the last decade. Male military enlistments fell 35% over the last 10 years, from 58,000 in 2013 to 37,700 last year. Meanwhile, female recruitment has remained largely static.

The erosion of military recruitment reflects society’s broader indifference to young men being disengaged from society. “You’ve got two main ways that Selective Service signs young men up. One is through the applications for driver’s licenses at the state level,” noted Kilgannon. “The number of young men aged 16-to-19 who are getting driver’s licenses has declined from 64% to 40% in the last 25 years.”

“The other main way that registration with Selective Service is done is through federal financial aid. And over the last 10 years, you have one million fewer young men who are going to college,” he added.

Compelling women to fight without their consent would not only violate women’s autonomy but transform historic norms governing women’s function in society. “If this goes through, they lose their voice, they lose their choice, their body,” said Kilgannon.

“Young women will no longer be vessels for new life. They will be instruments of war. And that’s not the way our society has typically adjudicated this issue.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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