Petition urges lawmakers to keep women out of the military draft

Petition urges lawmakers to keep women out of the military draft
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More than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling on Congress to remove a provision from an annual defense policy bill requiring women to register for the draft.

Instead, the signatories of the Care2 petition want the draft to be abolished altogether.

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“I can’t imagine a more tragic loss of liberty than forcing a citizen, whether male or female, to fight in a war with which they may disagree,” Julie Mastrine, the petition’s author and Care2’s activism marketing and social media manager, said in a written statement. “Equality is a moot point if personal choice and bodily autonomy must first be eliminated to achieve it.”

The provision was added to the National Defense Authorization Act last week as an amendment during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the bill.

The amendment was only offered by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to make a point about the ramifications of opening combat jobs to women. But six Republicans joined with all but one of the committee’s Democrats in voting for the amendment, leading to its surprise passage.

The bill still has to be voted on by the full House and Senate and signed by the president with the amendment intact for women to be required to register.

The petition, signed by 11,521 people as of Wednesday afternoon, says that women should be allowed to serve in combat roles but that neither sex should be drafted.

“Right now, every man has to register for the Selective Service at age 18, and they can be drafted for war until they reach age 26,” the petition says. “Not so for women. While this is unfair and sexist — women should be allowed to serve in combat roles just as men are — it is immoral to force people to go to war, no matter their sex.”

Congress has been debating what do to about the draft — which hasn’t been enacted since the Vietnam War — since Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced late last year that all combat jobs would be open to women.

While some lawmakers want the Selective Service to stay the same and some want to add women, there are some who say it's time to abolish the draft.

In February, four congressmen introduced a bill that would end the draft. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), one of the congressmen who introduced the bill, also argued for ending the draft at last week’s committee markup.

“If we look at Iraq and Afghanistan, in the height of the conflicts, there was never a discussion in the Department of Defense to resort to conscription,” he said. “I think the Selective Service is unnecessary.”